KindredSpirit’s Kaleidoscope: Ontario H&L Preservation Society

The Ontario Historical & Landmark Preservation Society publishes a newsletter and also conducts school tours and the dedication of officers, staff and support of Ontarioians and area visitors has enriched our heritage with many little known historical records that would likely not be reported on without such dedication and research.  Recently I received as a member the Newsletter from Ontario Town Historian, Liz Albright that details the development and usage of Cobblestone Houses.  Over 90 percent of all cobblestone buildings in the USA are located within a 60-mile radius of Rochester, NY.  Ontario has 19 of among the 170 cobblestones located in Wayne County.  The small number of cobblestone buildings located in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Vermont and Ontario Canada can be traced to people who migrated from NY State.

Cobblestones resulted from ice glaciers that blanketed the New York State region and as they receded left rough cut cobblestone of various sizes from bedrock.  Lake and streams created what was called “lake-washed cobbles.”

A cobblestone is defined as a stone that can be held in one hand. Farmers came across many cobblestones while they worked the land and stored up sufficient numbers to build homes and buildings.  There was no cost to collecting them and they made excellent structures, many featuring beautiful colorful shades in the construction.  Most such structures were built between 1825 and 1865 and still stand today.  They were the popular choice of builders who found bricks and lumber to be too expensive and were shipped on the Canal. But cobblestone structures had the added feature of being easy to care for, much more so than wood structures.

What went into the workmanship and labor to construct cobblestone buildings?  It was not uncommon to see farmers spend years collecting stone and art that went into construction. Would anyone be willing to do such work and effort today? Stone was salvaged from the plowed land, and sometimes several mile trips were required to travel to the lake with mule or oxen drawn wood sleds hauling the favored colorful stones to the site.  Women and children sorted the stones and folks came to help by forming neighborhood ‘bees’  followed by food, music and socializing.  That was the highpoint of entertainment and such gettogethers are almost nonexistant today in our modern social fabric.

An excellently informative book, Cobblestone Quest, came from the pen of Rich and Sue Freeman that maps out driving tours of many of the cobblestone structures in the Rochester area, including 9 of the cobblestones in the Ontario area.  Ontario has 12 cobblestones, three are located on Lake Road, three on Ontario-Walworth Road, two on Knickerbocker Road, two on Ontario Center Road, one on Fisher Road and one on Whitney Road.  The Hamlet of Pultneyville which is located on the Lake Road  I believe may also have cobblestone homes.

Cobblestone construction ended following the Civil War.  Industrialization with introduction of fast drying Portland Cement and mass produced bricks made labor intensive laying of cobblestone too time consuming and expensive.

In conclusion one might permit me to liken it to the development of the chessclock and the need to better regulate time.  Both seem to have emerged in close decades with the need to make good use of time and effort put into the art of chess play and the art of cobblestone building. As time passed, both sort of complemented each other in their respective historic venue.

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      If you click on the blue background of a post it gives you my archives by month starting as of July 2007. Kindred Spirits was the name of my bowling team of three women plus me which I started with my wife. Later on I adopted it as a writer for the USCL chess group and as a chess advisor for them. Ontario H&L Preservation Society is a society I am a member of and my home town. I started my website because chess was almost unknown among the general public in America other than as a game. Millions of people play chess at some level but few knew or cared about the historic part of the game other than knowing it was ancient. I had played, studied, collected its history and been an officer in numerous settings as well as a USCF Regional TD, treasurer of the Rochester Club and program director for over 11-years from my youth at the encouragement of Dr. Erich Marchand. My wife also played chess with me at home and was a former member of the CCLA as was I and my oldest brother. I do not play actively now due to illness. My doctor encouraged me to stop playing competitive chess for health reasons. I decided to give back to the chess community my over 65 years experience in chess at every level and the many wonderful folks I met along that trail. I wanted to bring to the public an enlightened look at life and chess the ways I experienced and found it beneficial in my own life. Thanks for tuning in and hope you find my website enjoyable, entertaining, and beneficial to your own joys in life./Don.

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