Joe Reinschmidt, Author
This segment will feature some unique information about Ridge Rd. and both old and newer sights along the way. The road itself is unusual in that it was created with a right-of-way width of 99 feet. It is one of few in the State and the only one in Monroe County of that width, except for the much newer Interstates and Expressways. It has been described as a “Military Route” but the meaning of that is unclear. Why 99 feet? Historically, when roads were “opened” or authorized by Legislative action, they were in multiples of rods. The “rod” was an English form of measurement that contained 16.5 feet. Most roads were created as 3 or 4 rods in width. The Ridge is 6 rods.
Since much of the traveled way was relatively narrow dirt trail, the right-of-way lines were probably ignored by settlers as they built homes and other structures along the frontage. The result was that many front porches and some front rooms were and still are within the public right-of-way.
Entering Parma from the West, at the Clarkson Town Line, the first non-residential feature we encounter is the Twin Hills Golf Course. It was named for the Hill twins, Warren and Russel, and not some topographical feature on the course. They created it from part of the highly successful dairy farm they operated for many years – Moncony Farms. Salmon Creek flowed through much of the Hill’s land. Where it crosses the Ridge was the site of an early mill known as Gulf Mills. Somewhere in that area a body was found in 1823. The murder was never solved according to historical writings.
The elevation of the land at the southwest corner of Hinkleyville and Ridge lead the Hill brothers to name their subdivision off Hinkleyville as “High Point Farms.” They claimed that area was the highest point along the Ridge for many miles in either direction. East of Hinkleyville Road, there were valuable gravel deposits on the south side. Pits were operated there by Seeley Adams, Monarch Materials and Ingersoll Sand & Gravel Company.
Continuing east, the Ridge is crossed by Trimmer Road, named after Leonard Trimmer, who erected a mansion on Buttonwood Creek. There was also a Trimmer Carding Mill. Sometimes referred to as Trimmerville, the major remaining historical feature is the Cobblestone School on the northwest corner. Erected in 1847, it became known as the Catfield School and was included on Parma’s Bicentennial comforter.
Further east, on the south side of the road at 5319, is a beautiful brick home known historically as the Collins Mansion. Charles and Evelyn Meagher are the current owners and they believe it was built around 1850 by the Collins family who were sheep farmers. Prior to the Meaghers, it was owned by the Pisher family, who operated another very successful dairy farm which included processing of their own milk, selling it from a retail store on site and also delivering it.
Some of their pasture land was on the north side of the ridge so it was not uncommon for motorists to come upon a herd of cows crossing the road either going to or coming from the pasture. Traffic simply had to wait and then proceed cautiously, especially if you had some of those really wide whitewall tires. Cows answer nature’s call regardless of where they are, and the pavement could be messy. Eventually the State built a cattle crossing under the roadway. It is still there just east of house number 5305.
The next major parcel at 5309 was known for years as the Fowler Farm and was unique in that it extended all the way south, a mile or more, to the Ogden-Parma town line. Adjacent to that property was the Witte Farm now owned and operated as Cobblecreek Farms by the Verhulst family. The home and barns thereon are original and well maintained.
As we proceed eastward, approaching Parma Corners, the density of development increases.
The “Corners” as locals called it, bears little resemblance to what was 100 years ago, much less 200. Most of the old structures near the corners have been destroyed to make room for others.
The service station building boom of the 70’s resulted in 3 stations being built there. Only the fact that the Town of Parma owned the Park on the southwest corner spared it. Of the three, only the Mobil station on the southeast corner remains. It replaced Bacon’s Parma Grill. A plaque on the west side of the building commemorates the history of that sight.
The store we knew as Sankels Gas and Groceries remains at 5014 Ridge Rd. Subsequently operated as Justices, Donnas, Nicoteras and most recently Mr. Nicks. It is currently closed.
The Lyceum Hall at 5017 where we attended Boy Scout meetings of Troop 102 is long gone.
It had been built in 1858 as a meeting place for educational meetings and lectures, but was also used for some public purposes. Still remaining however is Parma’s oldest frame school house, although it is encased within the brick walls, erected around it in 1853. The Parma District No. 3 School was incorporated into the Spencerport Central system and the building eventually sold to the Parma Baptist Church next door, and was connected to it.
On east aways and across the road at 4968 is a beautiful cobblestone house where Evan King and his wife raised a family and farmed for many years. Further east on the south side is the Thrall-Lavigne house at 4929. This is an exceptional cobblestone home built in 1845 on a large farm parcel. In the late 40’s it was sold and the new owner then sold off the house and barn and a few acres. The 90 or so acres remaining had several different owners and in the 1990’s it was purchased by the Slavic Pentecostal Church who erected an imposing brick church that seats around 700 people and also has an education wing and gym. Most of the construction was done by their members, many of whom are excellent craftsmen. It is probably the only project where the owners gave the Parma Building Department a plaque thanking them for their consideration, advice and assistance in getting the facility built.
For the next mile or so, the Ridge is primarily residential in use, with commercial beginning again near Dean Rd. At the southeast corner of Pease and Ridge are the remains of one of Parma’s mink ranches. Several such ventures were operating in the late 40’s and early 50’s but were not welcomed by the neighbors due to the pungent odors. Adjacent to that location was the once beautiful Kirby’s Motel with its landscaped bond and fountain which was lit at night. Only the Kirby’s house at 4671 remains from the days when it was a well-known stopover point on the “Honeymoon Trail” to Niagara Falls.
Approaching the east end of Town, we come to the location of another unsolved Ridge Rd. murder. On Saturday, Sept. 26, 1976 at Ridge Road, the owner, Mildred Boylin, a widow, was apparently interrupted while washing her car in the driveway. She was later found dead in the living room. It was ruled a homicide but no one was ever charged. The case remains in the Monroe County Sherriff’s cold case file with Investigator Steve Peglow assigned to follow up on any information that might be available. The current owners are Matt and Suzanne Dinicola.
Matt confided in me that he was aware of the home’s history but didn’t tell Suzanne until after they had moved in and slept there.
Across the street is the Sports Dome, a very large fabric structure held up by air pressure from continuously running blowers. It may be the only privately owned structure of this type in the Country used for commercial purposes. It is unique also because of the massive spread footing under it. The footing was enlarged, not only because the site is on top of 20 feet of fly ash, cinders, and masonry building rubble fill, but also to act as weight to counteract the uplifting interior air pressures which could also be enhanced by strong winds.
The State D O T parking area at the southwest corner of Manitou Rd. was the location of the Hoosick School. In 1956 it was sold, moved to Dean Rd. and now contains 2 apartments. The grade was lowered considerably from the hill on which the school was built. The adjacent Hoosick Cemetery remains just south of where the school site was.
The next segment of this series will feature some of the historical and more current and interesting individuals that were part of the Ridge Rd. neighborhood.