Photographs recall history of locations on main street, highlight work of current local businesses

The “Five Geneseo Businesses: Culture and Commerce on Main Street” exhibit (pictured above) opened Wednesday Dec. 5 in the Bridge Gallery. This exhibit showcases establishments on Main Street. (Udeshi Seniveratne / photo editor)

The Bridge Gallery in Brodie Hall was filled with vintage and modern photos of buildings of Main Street in Geneseo alongside the students that focused on these particular buildings, making for an engaging display. On Wednesday Dec. 5, “Five Geneseo Businesses: Culture and Commerce on Main Street” was open to all on Wednesday Dec. 5. 

Each building and business on Main Street has a different history, but when people visit the businesses they aren’t typically thinking about the history surrounding it. By learning the history behind each building and business, the community becomes closer and more appreciative of what Geneseo has to offer. It also brings attention to the owners because of all of their hard work to serve the Geneseo community. 

Chemistry major senior Margaret Giso worked on this project alongside the Association for the Preservation of Geneseo, professor and chair of art history Lynette Bosch, Geneseo Town Supervisor William Wadsworth and APOG Program Chair James Whitehead. Together they selected five businesses that they found interesting for the exhibition. From there, they focused on each business and the history of each specific location. 

The chosen businesses were mixed, serving different purposes with unshared histories. UpTown Tan, Rector-Hicks Funeral Home, Presutti Law Office, Conrad’s and the rental apartments at 5 Main Street became the focus of this exhibit. From tanning to renting an apartment, each business holds important value in the Geneseo community. 

The exhibition was meant to teach those that attended about the pasts that small businesses in this college town carry with them. The event also involved students, allowing them to get experience in the planning and presentation aspects that go along with exhibitions. The students went to their designated building and met with the current owners while learning about what the business does and what it used to be. 

“I hope that anyone who comes to the exhibit will gain a new appreciation for some of the buildings here on our Main Street,” Giso said. “They have been through a lot and changed through the years and we want to show people what they were and what they are now.” 

Whether people are intrigued by history or just Geneseo in general, it is very interesting to see what something used to be and how it has transformed to keep up with the changing times, regardless of personal interests. 

Art history major junior Stephanie Adams focused on the Presutti Law Office located at 32 Main Street. Adams interviewed Mr. Presutti to get more information on the town and its changes throughout time. 

“Main Street outside of the commercial core has remained relatively the same,” Adams said. “Now it is mainly services oriented towards students.” 

The town has to appeal to the locals who live here year-round, but also to the students who have made temporary homes in Geneseo for a few years. When presenting her pictures of the house many years ago compared to today, the structure of the house is almost identical, which is refreshing to see. 

This event was unique for Geneseo. While it’s not rare for students to be involved in school events, this event allowed students to independently research the history of Geneseo along with its businesses on their own. More events like these will not only help students discover what interests them, but it will also educate the rest of the community.