No wrecking ball for a landmark rectory

March 11, 2003

Dick Case
Post-Standard Columnist

Some we keep, some we lose....

The old Catholic rectory at 214 N. State St. is a keeper. It's been added to the list of protected Syracuse landmarks and by late summer, ought to be Bishop's House Adult Home.

The building, at the corner of East Willow Street, has been there since 1874, first as the home of the bishop of the Syracuse Diocese, more recently for the priests of St. John the Evangelist Church. St. John's was our first Catholic cathedral.

It's a design of Syracuse architect Archimedes Russell, who was something of a local landmark himself.

The diocese closed the rectory last year and put it on the market. The new owner is a group of investors headed by Realtor Jeff Paston.

The partners took an unusual move for people who've put money into an historical property: They applied to the city for a demolition permit, saying they wanted to test the belief the rectory's worthy of preservation.

Meanwhile, they had an offer from the next-door neighbor - owner of a oil company convenience store - to buy the building and tear it down for more parking. The store occupies the lot that once held the Lynch mansion, the Everson Museum before it moved to a new building in Community Plaza on Harrison Street.

This frightened preservationists. Still, the rectory passed the Landmark Preservation Board, Planning Commission and Common Council. It's been rented by Sheila and Mark Treasure, of Hannibal, a young couple who'll convert it to an adult home with very few changes, according to Mark.

He's an Air Force veteran and Realtor. She's an aide at Oswego Hospital.

Mark tells me he saw an ad for the rectory and came to Syracuse to take a look. The Treasures liked what they saw.

"We've always wanted to have our own business," Mark explains. "When we saw the house, we adored it."

2003 The Post-Standard.

The old Catholic rectory at 214 N. State St. is a keeper. It's been added to the list of protected Syracuse landmarks and by late summer, ought to be Bishop's House Adult Home.

The building, at the corner of East Willow Street, has been there since 1874, first as the home of the bishop of the Syracuse Diocese, more recently for the priests of St. John the Evangelist Church. St. John's was our first Catholic cathedral.

It's a design of Syracuse architect Archimedes Russell, who was something of a local landmark himself.

The diocese closed the rectory last year and put it on the market. The new owner is a group of investors headed by Realtor Jeff Paston.

The partners took an unusual move for people who've put money into an historical property: They applied to the city for a demolition permit, saying they wanted to test the belief the rectory's worthy of preservation.

Meanwhile, they had an offer from the next-door neighbor - owner of a oil company convenience store - to buy the building and tear it down for more parking. The store occupies the lot that once held the Lynch mansion, the Everson Museum before it moved to a new building in Community Plaza on Harrison Street.

This frightened preservationists. Still, the rectory passed the Landmark Preservation Board, Planning Commission and Common Council. It's been rented by Sheila and Mark Treasure, of Hannibal, a young couple who'll convert it to an adult home with very few changes, according to Mark.

He's an Air Force veteran and Realtor. She's an aide at Oswego Hospital.

Mark tells me he saw an ad for the rectory and came to Syracuse to take a look. The Treasures liked what they saw.

"We've always wanted to have our own business," Mark

explains. "When we saw the house, we adored it." More landmarks

Ray Sharp started an interesting hobby after 9/11; he collected caps, patches and other mementos of the terrorist attack. It includes material connected to the victims, as well as people who helped in the rescue effort and cleanup at ground zero.

In the past year, Ray, who lives in North Syracuse, has had his collection on display at various places around the area, including the county's Central Library downtown.

Now Ray's little museum is in a big museum.

Last month, Craig Williams, a senior historian at the New York State Museum in Albany, visited Ray and went home with the collection. Some or all of the pieces are to be part of an ongoing exhibit at the museum about the tragedy.

The collection has a special meaning for Ray, who's a Vietnam-era Army veteran and safety engineer who often works with police, firefighters and other rescue personnel. Sure, he told me last week, he'll miss his trove but he's pleased it's at the state museum.

"It's everybody's history," he explains.

"It's a remarkable collection," according to Craig Williams, who grew up in Fayetteville and says he was inspired to go into the history museum field by the late Caroline and Richard Wright of the Onondaga Historical Association.

He says Ray's pieces will be worked into the 9/11 display within a month or two.

Ray said goodbye to one hat he says he has a soft spot in his heart for: the D-Mort cap given to him by Tom Shepardson, who worked at ground zero as part of the Disaster Mortuary Operational Rescue Team he helped to found.

Tom, a Syracuse funeral director, died last month. Speak up

Thanks for the feedback - pro and con - on Saturday's free-speech T-shirt column. The Rev. Graham Hodges, a retired minister, called to suggest a visit to Carousel Center wearing a shirt marked with a line from the Sermon on the Mount: "You shall not kill."

In fact, "I'd be glad to do that," Graham added.

One request: When you call or write, please leave your name. You know who I am; I'd like a return of the favor.

I'll get over being called an idiot. It's just comforting to think we have the courage of our convictions.

Dick Case writes Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Reach him at 470-2254, or by e-mail, citynews@syracuse.com.

 

2003 The Post-Standard.

 

2002 The Post-Standard.