Welcome to the History Corner!
Celebrating the rich history of Port Byron, New York, an old Erie Canal village in the Town of Mentz. This site is dedicated to the legacy and heritage of our community as well as a variety of regional historical tidbits. I hope you enjoy your visit and will stop by again.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Things Don't Last Forever

Photo: EPA Public Profile
Tremendous effort has been made to try to save the old mill on Green Street.

The site suffered heavy metal contamination from the operations of the RN Hitchcock Electroplating business.  It has been the home of many different businesses in its long 100+ year history.

The EPA has been working with allot of determination to try to clean and remove the contaminants so that the site could be established as a historic property with the Park Service.

Unfortunately fate has not cooperated with that goal.  Recently there were several main support beams that have cracked, causing extensive damage.  I visited the site for a tour with Michael Hoppe with the Response and Prevention Branch of the EPA on the evening of October 9th.  It was a quick reminder that history alone can not save a structure.

While the damage is evident from the outside, it isn't until you go inside that your heart sinks.  The fractured support beams has caused a significant shift to the South West corner of the building.  The damages are beyond the resources to repair it.

If there is any glimmer in our situation, it is the documentation process that will be carried out to record as much as possible about the site before it is removed.  This is an opportunity that would be lost if the structure were allowed to simply collapse.  The project site will be recorded with various photos and reports about the old mill which will be made public record.  I will record these materials on this blog for my readers as the information becomes available.  I will also add a special section on the footer of this website with the various links.  However, I wanted to share the information here so that readers will be aware that resources about the Green Street Mill will appear in the footer in the near future.

The mill will be razed by the end of this month to reduce the risk of collapse from the winter snow load soon approaching.  It is sad to see so much progress made to the site yet not be able to reach the finish line.  It is an outcome that could not have been predicted.

It would appear that prior owners were aware
Photo: EPA Public Profile
of the support beam condition, as sections of the building have had new cross beams added.  The section that failed was an area that had not had any alterations.  This was in the area previously used as office space.  Additional photos will be posted to the EPA website soon.

The drop shifted floor support beams away from the walls so that portions of the floors are no longer in contact with the beams.  Oddly, the beams were notched and butted onto the beams but never permanently secured.  This poses a continuous problem with any restoration work as the repair work itself could cause a similar shift in other areas of the structure.  It was an odd experience to look at a door frame and see a good 2 inch drop from one corner to the next in such a short span of space.  This caused the wall in question to separate from the ceiling.  Our tour did not include the second floor and I was perfectly comfortable with staying at the lower level.

It will be sad to see the structure go.  Often structures are lost with no advance warning from natural disasters, fires etc.  We will have a final opportunity to document the Green Street Mill with its written, oral and photographic history in tact.  This will serve as a lasting record that this building was indeed here and was once a vital part of our business community.  In addition, some artifacts from its contents will be transported to local museums to preserve her legacy.

Without TLC, buildings do not last forever.  Additions were added onto this structure  without ensuring foundation support would sustain it.  It would be these final additions and the final industry of its last major occupant that has closed the final chapter on this structure; it is a building that we will surely miss.

You will gain a better appreciation of the vast amount of work already made in attempts to save our mill by visiting the public profile:  (Be sure to click on the photos to the right side)

EPA Profile of the Green Street Mill

Please visit the Phase 1 report that covers the mill's historic timeline:


Again, a special section will be added to the footer of this blog as a permanent archive to our mill.  Stay tuned to the EPA Profile link shown above for additional photos as they are added.

I would like to extend my appreciation to Michael Hoppe for proving a short tour of the project site so that I could see first hand the challenges they faced.  Mr. Wilt has extended his blessing to make mention of the mill on my blog to update those interested in our history, past and present.

On behalf of the Port Byron community, we extend our deepest sympathies to the Wilt family for the loss of this historic structure that has tied several generations in their family.