Maplewood History and Background
Maplewood is a community in the northwest section of Rochester, NY (Sector 2 of the Neighbors Building Neighborhoods initiative). Our neighborhood is dotted with impressive homes that are showcased by the annual Home Tour. The lovely Maplewood Park (famous for its roses) and the beautiful gorge of the Genesee is the backdrop for the popular Maplewood Rose Festival in June.
The area which is now called Maplewood was first settled by Native Americans and eventually became the site of an important settlement of the Seneca Tribe. Though explored by the French in the 17th century, the area was not permanently settled by European-Americans until 1796 when Gideon King brought his and several other families from Connecticut. They established King’s Landing (later to be known as Hanford’s Landing) as a port on the Genesee River.
By 1830, Charlotte, at the mouth of the river, had eclipsed the settlement as a principal port. The area became a farming and industrial community, the latter centered around the west side of the Lower Falls. This cluster of mills and factories became known as McCrackenville after its developer, David McCracken, one of three brothers who first came to the area in 1805.
The second half of the 19th century witnessed the development of elegant farming estates and palatial houses along Lake Avenue. The area became a popular recreational site with side-wheeled steamboat excursions up the Genesee to the Glen House (1870) situated on the west bank just north of the Lower Falls, a “Hydropathic” spa and resort (1852) on Lorimor (Burke) Hill, occupied today by Nazareth Academy, and the opening of the Driving Park Race Track (1874).
Elegant boulevards were laid out (Lakeview Park and Seneca Parkway) which would lead into newly designed parks (Maple Grove and Seneca Park West) according to a master plan by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. and Company, landscape architects and the designers of New York City’s Central Park. Wealthy Rochester business owners began to add their mansions and grand houses to those already towering over Lake Avenue. Coupled with the growth of Eastman Kodak and the development of Kodak Park, the area became the home of many of the company’s officers and upper-level managerial staff.
By the turn of the century, while Rochester’s wealthy continued to build large and elegant homes in Maplewood, many of the estates and farms were being subdivided into lots for high quality, gracious middle class housing and homes for factory workers. Many churches and schools were constructed and small businesses wer established as residential construction exceeded several hundred homes per year. By 1930, Maplewood had become a substantial residential neighborhood called home by the families of thousands of tradesmen, businessmen, and professionals.
The houses of Maplewood clearly reflect its history with surviving examples spanning the period from the 1850s to the present. Most were constructed during the 30 year period between 1890-1920 and represent a broad range of architectural styles and economic levels, from Victorian, Tudor, Queen Anne, Arts and Crafts, Eclectic and Shingle to Colonial and Georgian Revival. Although each house in Maplewood is unique, features commonly found include chestnut, oak, walnut, mahogany, or gumwood trim, and hardwood floors. One may also find decorative, mahogany, and maple inlays, bay windows, stained or leaded glass, pocket or french doors, fireplaces with elaborate mantles, and spacious porches. Large shade trees, mature hedges, foundation plantings and backyard gardens all add to the charm of Maplewood’s housing.
Other Maplewood info…
- Maplewood is bounded on the north by the Northwest City limits and the Riverside and Holy Sepulchre Cemeteries; on the south by Driving Park Avenue; on the west by Mount Read Boulevard; and on the east by the Genesee River.
- The Maplewood neighborhood is unique among all city neighborhoods in combining the architectural grandeur of intact avenues, urban landscapes designed by the internationally acclaimed firm of Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. and Company, and the natural beauty of the Lower Falls of the Genesee. 3 elements, our building environment, our landscaped environment, and our natural environment combined give Maplewood its enduring charm.
- We celebrate our “building environment” each year with a Home Tour.
- We celebrate our neighborhood and beauty of the roses in Maplewood Park during the annual Rose Fest.
- As one enters the neighborhood driving west over the Veterans Bridge, there is a playground on the right. This playground was built through volunteer help in 1991, and is one of the jewels of the neighborhood, maintained in part through fundraising and the assistance of volunteers. Soon this entrance will have another significant landmark as we conclude our Gateway project.
- Maplewood is also home to volunteer sports programs including the 10th Ward Tigers Football League.
- In 1997, NYS & the Federal Government declared a portion of Maplewood as a designated historic area and is on the National Register for Historic Places.