My Experience as an Historic Preservationist

(Pictured above: the 1847 William Higbie Homestead and my home).

By Mindy MacLaren

As the daughter of a visionary leader in the revitalization of some Rochester’s oldest industrial buildings, the idea of them as important pieces of the landscape, history, and future of a place was instilled in me from a young age. In my adult life, my personal interest in historic preservation has developed into a passion as well as a mission.

It is important to me to live in a town that cares for its heritage. The connection to its roots provides both a foundation and a springboard from which to grow, and presents those that live there with a strong sense of place and social cohesion…things that can be difficult to harness in our very mobile and busy modern lives.  Old buildings are environmentally responsible, with existing footprints built from high-quality materials and aesthetically-pleasing architectural details. These structures provide opportunities for place-based economic development, which encourages existing residents to stay and is inviting to new residents and businesses, and by suggesting certainty about future development, strengthens surrounding property values. In short, historic preservation is a benefit to the local economy and to the quality of life of a place.

In Penfield, we have the thoughtful leadership of Democrat Supervisor, Irene Gossin, to thank for the adoption of its Historic Preservation Ordinance in 1973. I would like to see this ordinance enhanced upon to ensure a more rigorous process for any proposed development that involves an historic structure. I proposed as much at the public hearing of the 2020 Comprehensive Plan Committee on September 24 of this year.

I have supported both national and local historic preservation organizations and have personally undertaken a number of renovation projects of historic houses here in Penfield. I have spoken in favor of preservation at public hearings in front of the current Town Board, and have written blogs and social media posts about specific lost opportunities I’ve witnessed over the past 9 years I’ve lived here. You can read here and here.  My concern about the loss of Penfield’s architectural heritage is, in part, a reason I’m running for a seat on the Board.

For my opponents to claim that they will “strengthen the oversight of the Historic Preservation Board” is disingenuous. They have had all of the seats at the table of local government for roughly 10 years, and their party has been in control for 36 years, but are just now taking an interest in preserving our remaining old buildings. If the genuine care was there, the Four Corners would be as vibrant as it could be, new development projects would be encouraged to incorporate the old houses on the property into their designs, and the roof of the barn at the Clark House would have a tarp on it.


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Vote for Preservation and Progress! Vote Mitchell & MacLaren!




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