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Meet the Young Urban Preservationists!

Meet the Young Urban Preservationists!

Here at Rochester Brainery, we love to connect with local organizations and groups, and then bring them in to teach classes! Not only does it give people an opportunity to get to know about these organizations, it allows for the interweaving of our culture and community. The Landmark Society of Western NY has a group known as the Young Urban Preservationists - or YUP for short! - who have been teaching classes at Rochester Brainery centered around old house hacks. I sat down with a few members to talk about the group and get a little information about the classes they are teaching.

Getting to know YUP…

“We can’t build our way to a brighter future, we have to conserve our way there”

Do you love to explore historical places? Have a desire to conserve historical landmarks? Feel that historic resources play an important role in the community? Want to experience these places with others who share this passion? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might as well say YUP and join the Young Urban Preservationists! This group is devoted to the conservation of historical places in Western NY and giving people who are passionate about these places a chance to experience them. I met up with Caitlin, the founder of the group, and two YUP members Chris and Bradley.

When did YUP start?

Caitlin: We started in March 2014 so we have reached our one-year anniversary!

How many people are currently a part of the group?

Caitlin: We started with a steering committee with about a half dozen people. It’s now grown to about a dozen individuals who are the core members of the organization. We don’t have membership per say, and you don’t pay money to be in the group. You can just show up to the events and call yourself a YUP!

How is the group trying to expand?

Caitlin: We are always open to more people and we are trying to do some different fun events. We are doing different types of advocacy as well.

Chris: We are trying to organize a diversity of events so we can appeal to what we think is a large pool of preservationist-minded younger people around Rochester. We are looking to stray away from only doing what might be perceived as typical preservation events such as home tours. We are thinking of newer and more exciting events. 

Can you describe your favorite events and what you have planned for this year?

Caitlin: I think our most popular and fun event was a bike-based scavenger hunt called Bikes, Beer and Buildings. We did that for the first time in July. There were teams of one to four people and we started in the South Wedge and gave the teams clues. Then they would bike around town, find the clues and check in using an app.  For bonus points, they could take photos and post them on  Instagram. That was definitely a fun event and we are going to do it again. This summer we are planning on doing field trips. We want to get a bus and take people to small towns outside Rochester to explore.

What makes you believe that historic places are important to the revitalization of communities

Bradley: Buildings give our community a sense of place and makes us different from other places. They are the things that people are proud of when they talk about their community. Structures aren’t generic and they also connect us with the people who have lived there before.

Chris: Physical manifestation of our cultural heritage and all the forces that happened to create these places and buildings. How those buildings in turn saw the passage of history as they changed through time, but also the diverse collection of history associated with those buildings. That has this broader effect on people’s sense of identity and sense of place. Also the aspect of sustainability. This is kind of corny to say but the greatest building ever built is the one that already exists. There is an irreplaceability there not only from a historical standpoint, but an energy and material standpoint. We can’t build our way to a brighter future, we have to conserve our way there.

Caitlin: I’d also add that they have a real economic value. People want to spend time at places that have that sense of identity and character. Park Place is a perfect example, people want to live there and be there because of its character.

What are some of your favorite historical places in Western NY?

Caitlin: In Rochester we have a park system that was designed by Fredrick Olmsted, the landscape architect who designed Central Park. We are one of four cities in the country that have that. So I would say that the Olmsted parks are one of my favorite historical places in the city. That includes Genesee Valley Park, Highland Park, Seneca Park, and other smaller parks.

Chris: Thinking of landscapes, I have a lot of fond memories of Mount Hope and the sort of unique nature of that cemetery. It is this place where all good Rochesterians go in the end. There’s an amazing collection of Rochester history right there that you can walk through.

Bradley: I love Browncroft. For me, the history and sort of mindfulness about creating, developing and making sure these communities are still thriving today really makes me enjoy this place. The community is strong because of the historical nature and mindfulness that was put into the creation of the buildings.

Old House Hacks Classes…

YUP members have been teaching, and continue to teach, a wide range of old house hack classes at Rochester Brainery! These classes are an awesome opportunity for people to learn specific repairs for a variety of home improvements.

Why should anyone want to maintain an old house?

Chris: It’s very expensive for new homes that have similar quality as older houses. It is way more affordable to fix old houses rather than buying a new one of the same quality. For me, that’s why I love historic homes. It has that much higher level of uniqueness and build quality. Especially in the Rochester area, the affordability is unreal.

Caitlin: Our first class was based on windows and doors. In older houses, windows are made out of old growth lumber which doesn’t exist anymore. Those old growth trees produced quality lumber that have tight growth rings so they’re more resistant to rot and insect infestation. That’s just one example of how the quality of an old house would be better than a new one. Also, when you live in an older home you’re surrounded by all this character and richness that I really think makes your life better. There is something special about having a home that is different than everyone else’s and has that unique feel.

What are some interesting parts about these classes?

Caitlin: Our first class on windows and doors had a guest speaker named Steve Jordan who is a local expert and craftsman on windows. He is also a character!

Bradley: We have many ways to fix many problems in old houses. There are a lot of little shortcuts that you might not have thought of. We have ways to solve issues that make it a lot cheaper to fix up old houses.

Chris: We are trying to help people realize that it’s not so daunting to take care of an old house. We want people to appreciate their house and make sure it’s getting the care it needs. In these classes, people will get a lot of information and be able to apply this to their own homes.

Interested in attending a class led by YUP? The next class is on Wednesday, April 29th and titled “Old House Hacks: Wait! No! Stop!”. More information may be found here.

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