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Pitkin-Powers Building (East Ave Historic District) - Rochester, NY
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member sagefemme
N 43° 09.275 W 077° 35.491
18T E 289295 N 4781241
Quick Description: This building at 474 East Avenue, part of the East Avenue Historic District was once a private mansion. It was donated to the Boy Scouts of America, and now serves primarily as the headquarters of Seneca Waters Council (formerly Otetiana Council).
Location: New York, United States
Date Posted: 5/18/2012 9:09:02 AM
Waymark Code: WMEEQT
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 0

Long Description:
The brief description given in the East Avenue Historic District nomination form says:

"A rectangular Greek Revival structure was built by William Pitkin, an early merchant and druggist. It was later owned by Daniel Powers, a prominent banker, investor and art collector. The third-sory was added in 1900. It is now the headquarters for the Otietiana Council, Boy Scouts of America."

Information gathered from another source (I don't recall where, but I will note it here when I come across it) indicated that just as Daniel Powers sought to own the tallest commercial building in downtown Rochester, and strove to maintain that status, he strove to own the largest mansion in Rochester. This was probably his motivation for adding the third story.

A summary of this building's history is presented on a poster inside the main entrance:

"The Pitkin-Powers House (474 East Ave, home of the Otetiana Councel Servicenter) is one of the more notable buildings of East Ave. It was the first of the East Avenue mansions to be built (1839) and has been the home of several prominent Rochesterians. When it was built, East Ave was still a dirt road and the area was forest, farm and swampland.

"The house was built by William Pitkin, one of Rochester's early mayors Originally two stories high, its style was similar to Woodside (now the Rochester Historical Society office) across the street. Pitkin's second wife was Louisa Rochester, the youngest daughter of our city's founder. She objected to living out in the "country" and persuaded Pitkin to move back to the Third Ward (Corn Hill) where most Rochesterians lived at the time.

"Another prominent owner was Azariah Boody, who briefly represented Rochester in Congress. When he moved to New York City, the back part of the property became the first University of Rochester campus (bounded by University Ave/Prince St/College Ave/Goodman St). The dandelions growing there provided a symbol for the young university as noted in the song, "The Dandelion Yellow".

""O, Azariah Boody's cows were sleek and noble kine
They wandered o'er the verdant fields where grew the dandelion.
And when they drove the cows away to build a home for knowledge
They took the color from the flow'r
And gave it to the college."

"Legend tells that Prince St is named after Boody's favorite horse.

"Boody sold the house to Daniel Powers, builder of the Powers Building still standing at Four Corners. The Powers Building boasted the first elevator in Rochester which would take visitors to his fifth floor art gallery. For years, Powers kept adding on to that building trying to maintain its status as the tallest building in Rochester. Back at home, he added a third floor, with mansard roof like that of the Powers building.

"In 1906, Power's son Walter had the prominent Rochester architect J Foster Warner redesign the facade to look much like it does today.

"Sadly, like many other East Ave mansions, the building deteriorated over the years. In the late 1950's, the City put it up for sale. A few bidders proposed to tear it down completely. Fortunately, the City accepted the offer of Maurice and Fred Forman to buy the building and donate it to the Boy Scouts for an office building. The interior of the building was beyond saving and was gutted. An addition was added to the back of the building, and 120 years after its first construction, the building was opened up as the Otetiana Council Servicenter. In 1990 the building was renovated through the generousity of the Todd and Hale families."
Name of Historic District (as listed on the NRHP): East Avenue Historic District

Link to page with the Historic District: [Web Link]

NRHP Historic District Waymark (Optional): [Web Link]

474 East Avenue Rochester, NY 14607

How did you determine the building to be a contributing structure?: Narrative found on the internet (Link provided below)

Optional link to narrative or database: [Web Link]

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sagefemme visited Pitkin-Powers Building (East Ave Historic District) - Rochester, NY 5/25/2012 sagefemme visited it