The Association for the Preservation of Geneseo has accepted $25,000 from the Rochester Area Community Foundation for its Save the Wall project. The money will help cover the cost of materials for the next three years. The Save the Wall project started in 2012 under APOG’s campaign and will finish in 2019. The organization brings together community volunteers to restore the mile-long Wall, which borders the Wadsworth Homestead property.
APOG spokesman and associate professor of sociology Kurt Cylke said in a phone interview that Sept. 24 ended APOG’s fifth season of volunteering for this project. He said that hundreds of volunteers—the vast majority of them students—contributed in some way to rebuilding the Wall.
President and CEO of the Rochester Area Community Foundation Jennifer Leonard said in a phone interview that the Save the Wall initiative has had extraordinary volunteer support over the years. She added that the Rochester Community Foundation has focused on preserving the Wall mainly due to its historical value.
“The Wadsworth Homestead is a key part of the Geneseo historic area, so it will strengthen the economic vitality, as well as the cultural tourism opportunities in Geneseo,” Leonard said. “The Wall is unique, the Wall is important and the Wall is bringing people together to invest in both the past and future of this village.”
Cylke also commented on the historical significance of the Wall.
“Geneseo is a national historic landmark district. It’s an important piece of American history and the wall is the gateway to the Geneseo historic district, so it’s maintaining the entryway to our community from the south and from the east,” Cylke said. “It’s much better to have a well-maintained mile-long Wall than a couple of rocks.”
The social capital also attracted the Rochester Area Community Foundation to this project, according to Leonard.
“Social capital is the thing that draws people together, and this is a meeting place, a gathering place and a physical asset in Geneseo that contributes to its historical character and its aesthetic values,” Leonard said.
She continued to say that the project has engaged Geneseo residences of all ages and Geneseo students, all who have volunteered many hours.
Leonard explained that there are three stages to rebuilding the Wall. The first stage has been completed, as it involved removing the brush and trees from the Wall and making it more accessible from both sides. The second stage began this year and has consisted of reconstructing areas of the Wall that have fallen apart and cleaning the stones of debris and old mortar. The final stage will involve reconstructing the Wall.
There will be an estimated 9,000 volunteer hours contributed to rebuilding the Wall after the project is complete, according to Leonard. She emphasized the community involvement that has taken place throughout this project.
“The Wadsworth Homestead is actually listed on the national register of historic places and has been since 1974, the same time APOG was founded, which makes it of national significance,” Leonard said. “But it’s really the local community that has come together to do this work.”