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Geneva’s Parrott Hall gets new life

Geneva’s Parrott Hall gets new life

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A historic Ontario County building is getting a transformation, with help from several grants and a coalition of preservationists.

Geneva’s Parrott Hall Coalition has tapped Crawford & Steams, Architects and Preservation Planners LLC to work with engineering firm Klepper, Hahn & Hyatt to create the Parrott Hall stabilization and roof replacement documents for the first phase of Parrott Hall’s rehabilitation. Clinton Brown Co. Architecture P.C. will complete a feasibility study for Parrott Hall.

Funding for the project will come from the Preservation League of New York State’s Donald Stephen Gratz Preservation Services Fund, as well as through a grant from the Landmark Society of Western New York’s Preservation Grant Fund.

Parrott Hall was built in the 1850s as the home of Louisa and Nehemiah Denton, In 1882, the state of New York acquired the house, outbuildings and 125 acres of land so that the dwelling could house the headquarters of the state Agricultural Experiment Station, now called Cornell AgriTech.

Parrott Hall in Geneva was once the home of Louisa and Nehemiah Denton. It was left vacant for decades and now is being renovated with help from the Parrott Hall Coalition. (photo provided)
Parrott Hall in Geneva was once the home of Louisa and Nehemiah Denton. It was left vacant for decades and now is being renovated with help from the Parrott Hall Coalition. (photo provided)

In 1950, it was renamed Parrott Hall in honor of Percival Parrott, the station’s first entomologist and later director of the Agricultural Experiment Station. In 1971, Parrott Hall was listed on both the state and National Registers of Historic Places. In 1975, the site was acquired by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for the purpose of creating a state historic site at Parrott Hall.

In early 2018, OPRHP slated Parrott Hall for demolition. Friends of Parrott Hall, with support from the Geneva Historical Society, rallied to save the building. The Parrott Hall coalition has since worked with OPRHP to remove the demolition order and find a way to save the historic site.

“Parrott Hall was too important a building to see torn down,” said Bruce Reisch, of the Friends of Parrott Hall. “Members of the community have rallied around preserving this historic structure, and the Friends of Parrott Hall are committed to seeing this building come back to life.”

In 2019, the city of Geneva finalized a license agreement with OPRHP to manage Parrott Hall with the nonprofit Friends of Parrott Hall. Members of the coalition were granted access to the building in June 2019.

“We believe that because of Parrott Hall’s historical significance, a reinvestment in the space complements Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Taste of New York initiative and investments in the neighboring AgriTech campus,” said Preservation League President Jay DiLorenzo. “We are all eager to see this historic building come to life again and act as a vital part of the Geneva landscape.”

The project has received considerable financial investment, officials said. The Preservation League facilitated a grant from the J.M. McDonald Foundation to fund Parrott Hall’s initial stabilization, and the Friends of Parrott Hall has received an Endangered Properties Intervention Program loan from the Preservation League.

“We are grateful for the local, regional and state support in this restoration and revitalization initiative,” said Geneva City Manager Sage Gerling. “Geneva embraces collective efforts, as communities thrive when investment is cultivated by the strategic and focused work by many contributors.”

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