Always emerging

from extinction

our bonobo blood 

will soon respire 

into a billion years of

clouds and dew.

Doomed yet profitable.

Staked in. 
Our cells listen
for the soundtrack of rebirth.
George Cassidy Payne
George Cassidy Payne
Rochester, NY

The Barry House: Victorian Italian Villa At Its Finest

Photography by George Cassidy Payne


Designed by Gervase Wheeler, a prominent 19th-century English architect, the rose brick and limestone mansion is considered one of the best examples of the Victorian Italian villa style in the country, according to Cynthia Howk, architectural research coordinator at the Landmark Society of Western New York. It was designated a city landmark in 1970 and is part of the Mt. Hope/Highland Ave. Historic District that is listed at the federal, state, and local levels. The 16-room mansion boasts eight carved marble fireplaces, 11-foot faux grained doors, original gas chandeliers now wired for electricity, and numerous collections of portraits, furniture, silver, dishes, glassware, and linens from the Barry family. On the grounds, scores of rare specimen trees are a living legacy of the Ellwanger and Barry Nursery.








The house was given to the University of Rochester in 1963 by the heirs of Patrick Barry’s daughter, Harriet Barry Liesching, who had lived there until her death in 1951. A careful restoration was carried out from 1964-65 under the direction of Elizabeth Holahan of the [WWW]Society for the Preservation of Landmarks in Western New York. According to Holahan in a 1981 UR press release, the Barry House is the nation’s “outstanding” example of the Italian style of the Victorian period. The one comparable residence, located in Bridgeport, Connecticut, was razed in the 1970s despite protests from preservationist groups. In 1969 the Barry House parlor and library were featured in in Nancy Comstock’s 100 Most Beautiful Rooms in America.





The development of the nursery industry in Rochester presents a fine picture of the transition of culture from the Old to the New World. Not only were the horticultural beginnings transplanted during the previous century in New York and the East moving slowly westward, but several of Rochester’s nurserymen came more or less directly from the Old World, equipped with the theories and techniques of its more advanced centers. Houghton, Kedie, and Bateham, and later Joseph Harris and James Vick, all from England, Patrick Barry from Ireland,  and notably George Ellwanger from Germany,  brought a valuable contribution to Rochester, and their eager readiness to send abroad for new seeds and plants as well as fresh ideas was no small factor in the rapid rise of the western town to horticultural leadership.

The Flower City: George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry





Expansion was one of the secrets of their success, for, by adding new acres every year or so, they were able to develop mature and model orchards on older nursery grounds. The plan enabled them to obtain an accurate knowledge concerning their fruit, a reliable stock from which to take their cuttings, and a means for demonstrating their fruit to visiting customers. With this latter point in mind they announced in successive catalogues that since their location was “nearly opposite the celebrated Mount Hope Cemetery, both places can be visited at the same time … An omnibus runs from the center of the city … every hour carrying passengers each way for one shilling.

The Flower City: George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry
















The Nursery Office: An A.J. Davis Gothic Revival Masterpiece

Photography by George Cassidy Payne


Alexander Jackson Davis, or A. J. Davis, was one of the most successful and influential American architects of his generation, known particularly for his association with the Gothic Revival style.






By 1850, the population of Rochester had reached 36,000, making it the 21st largest city in the United States. Westward expansion had moved the focus of farming to the Great Plains and Rochester’s importance as the center for flour milling had declined. Several seed companies in Rochester had grown to become the largest in the world, with Ellwanger & Barry Nursery Co. the largest. Rochester’s nickname was changed from the Flour City to the Flower City.





Plant the love of the holy ones within your spirit; don’t give your heart to anything, but the love of those whose hearts are glad. Rumi




Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. Robert Louis Stevenson




George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry were owners of one of the largest nurseries in Rochester. Ellwanger began the business in with Thomas Rogers in 1839 but by 1840 he had bought Rogers out and partnered with Barry who was more knowlegeable than Rogers. Their first site, the Mount Hope Garden and Nurseries, grew to 43 acres by 1843 and was the basis of an extremely profitable wholesale business. By 1860 Ellwanger and Barry would control over 500 acres in the area. They grew a wide variety of plants, including fruit trees. They earned an impressive seven awards at the 1849 NY State Fair in Syracuse. Ellwanger frequently traveled to Europe, bringing back seeds and cuttings to cultivate here.




If we don’t plant the right things, we will reap the wrong things. It goes without saying. And you don’t have to be, you know, a brilliant biochemist and you don’t have to have an IQ of 150. Just common sense tells you to be kind, ninny, fool. Be kind. Maya Angelou




The success of the Rochester nursery trade, as exemplified by the Mt. Hope Nursery, earned Rochester the title “The Flower City.” The Lilac Festival maintains the heritage of that name, and Ellwanger Garden gives you the chance to experience the inspiration of that heritage.




Gothic Revival (also referred to as Victorian Gothic, Neo-Gothic or Jigsaw Gothic, and when used for school, college, and university buildings as Collegiate Gothic) is an architectural movement that began in the late 1740s in England.





The Gothic Revival was to remain one of the most potent and long-lived of the 19th-century revival styles. Although it began to lose force after the third quarter of the 19th century, buildings such as churches and institutions of higher learning were constructed in the Gothic style in England and in the United States until well into the 20th century. Only when new materials and concern for functionalism began to take hold did the Gothic Revival disappear.





Trump’s Riyadh Speech Was Morally Disingenuous

While in Riyadh, President Trump delivered a speech in front of Arab and Muslim leaders at the Arab Islamic American Summit, urging the Muslim world to take a stand against global terrorism and share the burden of eradicating extremism in the region.
“I stand before you as a representative of the American people to deliver a message of friendship and hope and love. That is why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic faith. In my inaugural address to the American people, I pledged to strengthen America’s oldest friendships and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust.”
The president added: “Terrorism has spread all across the world, but the path to peace begins right here on this ancient soil in this sacred land. America is prepared to stand with you in pursuit of shared interests and common security, but the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their country, and frankly for their families, for their children. It’s a choice between two futures, and it is a choice America cannot make for you.”
Inevitably the mainstream American news establishment will praise Trump for sounding presidential. Likewise, his base will give him high marks for holding the Muslim world accountable for naming who they perceive to be the main culprit for global terrorism.
Sadly, this praise is unmerited in light of the United States’ own culpability in spreading terrorism.
From Afghanistan to Iraq to Yemen, the US funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the Middle East region. For decades, the US has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.
For starters, there is the American-led coalition invasion and occupation of Afghanistan (2001-2014), which sparked the Taliban Insurgency and commenced an intractable war that is still being waged today. (It is turning into America’s longest war in history. Vietnam technically lasted 25 years.)
Next, I can point to the invasion and occupation of Iraq (2003-2013), which led to the overthrow of the Ba’ath Party government and the execution of Saddam Hussein, but unleashed a hell fury of violence that has claimed millions of casualties. As a result, Iranian influence in Iraq has increased, and al-Qaeda in Iraq evolved into what we now know as ISIS.
This was followed by the US led War in North-West Pakistan, which has continued unabated since 2004. This campaign of mainly secret bombings and drone strikes has produced immeasurable suffering on a population that has no real means of self- defense.
Moreover, one can cite The Libyan Civil War of 2011, which led to the overthrow of the Gaddafi government and the death of Muammar Gaddafi, but, like the Iraq fiasco before it, unleashed a Pandora’s Box of post-civil war carnage. Today, Libya is teetering on the brink of total anarchy.
Today, there is the War on ISIS (known as Operation Inherent Resolve), which is part of the Iraqi Civil War, Syrian Civil War, Second Libyan Civil War, the Boko Haram insurgency, and America’s “War on Terror.” On a regular basis airstrikes on ISIS and al-Qaeda positions in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Nigeria, and Afghanistan, cause thousands to flee their homes instigating an international refugee crisis.
The latest act of aggression against the Muslim world occurred on April 13th, 2017, when the U.S. dropped a GBU-43/B MOAB on an ISIS controlled tunnel system in Afghanistan, resulting in the deaths of 94 ISIS militants, including 4 commanders. To this day we do not have data for how many innocent casualties there were. But clearly the use of this weapon set a horrible precedent that will not be fully realized for years to come.
As I see it, Donald Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia was willfully ignorant about the role America has played in terrorizing Middle Eastern nations through invasions, occupations, sanctions, embargoes, drone strikes, and the use of nightmarish weapons such as the MOAB.
To talk about the role of Islamic terrorism in the region without mentioning the United States as an aggressor is not just historically misaligned; it is also morally disingenuous.

Trump’s Support of Police is All Rhetoric

Before President Trump left on his first official tour across seas, he addressed law enforcement and family members of the fallen at the 36th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service outside the U.S. Capitol. In this speech he reaffirmed his campaign promises to restore justice and end attacks on police.
“Every drop of blood spilled from our heroes in blue is a wound inflicted upon the whole country,” Trump said. “And every heartache known by your families in law enforcement is a sorrow shared by the entire family of the American nation.”
The president went on to declare: “Now, as President, my highest duty is to keep America safe. We will keep America safe. And included in safe means safe from crimes, safe from terrorism, and safe from all enemies, foreign and domestic. At the center of that duty is the requirement to ensure that our law enforcement personnel are given the tools and resources they need to do their jobs and to come home to their families safely….You are the Thin Blue Line between civilization and chaos. You come from every community and all walks of life. You are mothers and fathers and sons and daughters. You rush into unknown danger, risking your lives for people you have never met, people you don’t know, performing your duty under the most difficult conditions — and often without any thanks at all.”
As much as I agree with the president’s sentiments about the bravery and dedication of most police officers, I cannot help but see through the hypocrisy and hollowness of these words.
If the president really cared about police officers, then he would not de-fund public schools, cut social services, escalate the war on drugs, and loosen gun regulations. Taken together, these policies put police officers in immediate danger.
Take for example the criminalizing of nonviolent marijuana users. Studies show that legalizing marijuana would greatly reduce the burden of America’s prison system on taxpayers. The population in America’s jails and prisons has grown to 6.9 million, including those on probation and parole. Some studies show that 60,000 individuals were behind bars for marijuana use, costing taxpayers $1.2 billion.
In total, in prosecuting and policing individuals with regards to marijuana, between $7 billion and $10 billion is spent annually. Ninety percent of those cases were for possession only. In fact, there are more arrests made on marijuana charges than violent crimes combined. These violent crimes include assault, rape, robbery and murder.
As I see it, the war on drugs, as it is being waged under Trump’s new administration, takes resources away from the police and makes them less capable of responding to the highest needs in our communities.
Even more disconcerting is Trump’s reduction of investment in social services, which will have a devastating impact on police officers. Every weekday, millions of children from some of the poorest parts of the United States remain after school for programs that aim to enhance not only academic performance, but also build social skills and foster relationships with healthy adults.
These kids get a safe and enriching place to spend the afternoon and early evening, and their working parents can take advantage of free child care. Threatened by his proposal to eliminate $1.2 billion in grants for after-school and summer programs, many of these services could soon go extinct.
Every $1 invested in after-school programs saves $9 by increasing kids’ future earning potential, improving their performance at school, and reducing crime and welfare costs, according to a study by the Rose Institute at Claremont McKenna College. What is clear from the research is that regular participation in after-school programs and community learning centers increases achievement in math and reading, school attendance, homework completion, class participation, improved classroom behavior and lower dropout rates.
Kids who do not have these programs turn to gangs, heavy drugs and petty crime. Kids who do not have these programs end up shooting police officers. The direct correlation is there, but the president refuses to make the connection.
The same can be said for his stance on public education. The Trump budget would slash $9 billion—13 percent of the U.S. Department of Education’s funding—while investing $1.4 billion of new money in school choice, including private school vouchers.
In addition to cutting supports to teachers and after-school programs, this budget eliminates funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, or CNCS, which provides volunteer support and educational awards for teachers in training and out-of-school time programming. A majority of competitive grant awardees in the AmeriCorps program, the largest CNCS program, go to educational programs in schools and serve students in 41 states and Washington, D.C. Academy Charter Schools, Teacher Residencies, Reading Corps, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and Teach For America could be eliminated under the president’s budget.
Without these programs, police officers across the nation can expect to be dealing with youth and immature adults who are less educated, less community oriented, less civic and civil in general, poorer, and far more apt to make violent choices.
Lastly, there has long been a tension between the interests of law enforcement and the efforts to roll back gun regulations, but the conflicts will become more frequent as gun rights are expanded under the Trump administration. Police departments across the nation have insisted that gun owners be required to receive training, as their officers do, and that people with violent histories, who are more likely to clash with the police, be stopped from obtaining weapons.
Maine has recently enacted a law allowing people to carry
concealed weapons without a permit or training, despite the objections of Michael Sauschuck, the police chief in Portland, the state’s largest city.
“It is absolutely ludicrous to me that we require people to go take a test to get a driver’s license, but we are allowing people to carry a deadly weapon on their person without any procedures regulating it,” Chief Sauschuck said.
There is a relationship between public education and crime; there is a link between the war on drugs and attacks on police; and there is a difference between truly supporting police officers and making speeches at memorials. If Donald Trump truly cared about the safety of police officers, his policies would reflect this concern. As usual, Trump is all bluster and no substance.
George Cassidy Payne
AmeriCorps Member (2009-10)

In This House

Menlo’s Dead End: a pleasant diversion

Menlo pl. backs into Highland Park, right across from Mt. Hope Cemetery. It is a little explored side street on an extremely busy road. Since it is a dead end, only pedestrians who are not trying to get to the South Wedge or downtown have any reason to wander down it. Those who do will find a terrific collection of houses that represent many of the most influential architectural styles of the early 20th century, including Modernism, American Foursquare, and the Victorian style.

The fact that it is adjacent to Mt. Hope Cemetery only adds to the street’s intrigue. It also shadows the urban woodlands of Highland Park, which gives this out of the way pocket-  neighborhood a serene luster. It is a pleasant diversion.


Photography by George Cassidy Payne 




First Church of Christ Scientist

Christian Science Reading Rooms are public spaces where anyone can learn about spiritual healing. Published materials about Christian Science are available to read or purchase, including the core teachings of Mary Baker Eddy.



The Artful Gardener has American Made Crafts and giftware include pottery, art glass, jewelry, etchings, fiber arts, soaps and candles. Garden pieces include metal sculpture, statuary, frost-proof pottery, fountains, birdbaths, birdhouses and more.





Attributes of Victorian Houses

  1. Steeply pitched roof of irregular shape, usually with dominant front-facing gable
  2. Textured shingles (and/or other devices) to avoid smooth-walled appearance
  3. Partial or full-width asymmetrical porch, usually one story high and extended along one or both side walls
  4. Asymmetrical facade





The Colonial house style consists of many styles built during the Colonial period (early 18th Century) in America’s history when England, Spain, and France had colonies scattered across what is now the United States.

English colonies closely mirrored housing fashions of England although they were 50 years behind. Early on (pre 1700) the First Period English style houses were based on the building practices of late medieval Britain. After 1700 the English colonies evolved their building style into the Georgian style.

When the American Revolution arrived the architectural fashion evolved into the Federal style and persisted until around 1820. The next housing fashion to develop was based on the ancient Roman architecture that inspired the Renaissance and was labeled the Early Classical Revival Style. This style was popularized in the southern U.S. by popular southern architects such as Thomas Jefferson. Also, during this time the French colonies in Louisiana developed the French Colonial style and further west the Spanish Colonial style evolved. Both Spanish and French Colonial styles are very rare in today’s popular Colonial styles.




Highland Park










It is the form of a Foursquare, more than its trim and materials, that makes it distinctive. In its purest rendition, it is a simple box, roughly as wide and deep as it is tall. Each of its two stories is quartered into four roughly equal spaces. Often a kitchen will occupy one of the quarters, but they were just as likely to be found in additions off of the main structure. Another distinctive feature is a dormer on one of more of the roof slopes, often with a miniature roof just like the larger version it sits on.




Mt. Hope Cemetery



Most Modern (1900-1950) house styles of American architecture include familiar and very popular architects. This list includes Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier (Charles-Edouard Jeanneret), Charles and Henry Greene, Mies van der Rohe, and Walter Gropius just to name a few. What they had in common was an attempt to design inexpensive housing that was not only eye-pleasing and functional but could be built quickly to keep up with the fast paced affects of the industrial revolution.



Streetlamp in Highland Park


The Historic Brewster-Burke House Gets a Touch of the French Quarter

Photography by George Cassidy Payne

On the corner of Spring St and South Washington St, Rochester, NY, stands one of the finest examples of the Italianate style in the city. Featuring a hipped roof with cupola and an entrance porch with carved Moorish Revival ornamentation, the Brewster-Burke House was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 .

Today, the French Quarter Cafe is located inside this historic building.



Date Built: 1849


“The Brewster-Burke house has a chhattri porch with a scalloped ogee arch and quatrefoils cut out in the spandrels. The brackets are oversized and are an s and c scroll shape with interesting spirals cut out. Candelabra columns are also included, but these are far more angular and have deep fluting that make them look like grass bundles. The windows have lintels with simple triangles. A monitor caps the roof and a long wing to the side has a porch that mimics the central porch. The house ends in a structure with three pointed Gothic arches, that served as a summer kitchen and carriage house according to the plans, demonstrating the stylistic link some theorists of the period found between Indian and Gothic architecture. Throughout the house has ironwork balconies on the windows, while the main porch has a fantastic wooden balcony with exotic finials on the posts. The side seems to have had a porch that was as fantastic as the main porch with carved ornament, but this has disappeared along with an exceptional fence, pictured below from HABS. The house was threatened many times with demolition but has been saved mostly intact, despite some losses.” (



Moorish style

A long-lasting Islamic Iberian style created by the ruling Moors who invaded from North Africa and were brilliant woodcarvers and leatherworkers. Little furniture was used or survives from this era, in which richly covered cushions were important, but it was part of the Muslim world inspiration for a 1856–1907 revival.
The Brewster-Burke House is a prime example of how this revival traveled far beyond the Muslim world to influence the architectural sensibilities of Europeans and Americans working in the mid 19th century.


Original Owner: Henry R. Brewster


 “We wander through old streets, and pause before the age stricken houses; and, strange to say, the magic past lights them up.” – Grace King, French Quarter Guidebook




Italianate Style

” Emphasizing the rambling, asymmetrical character of Italian farmhouses, the style easily fit into the informal, rural ideals of picturesque movement. Because of the increasing complexity of American building types by the 1850s – from train stations and commercial buildings to townhouses, apartments, and suburban homes, the style was modified to fit a building’s particular function. The style’s use for many of America’s main-street commercial buildings provides for one of America’s most distinctive symbolic landscapes of midwestern town centers. Like Gothic Revival, Italianate and its cousin, the Italian Villa style, was heavily promoted and popularized by Andrew Jackson Downing by the 1850s as the preferred suburban country house. By the 1860s, Italianate overshadowed Gothic Revival as America’s most popular romantic style.” (



Architect/Builder: Merwin Austin


AUSTIN, Merwin (1813-1890) was a successful architect in Rochester, N.Y. from 1845 until 1869 who executed several important works in Port Hope, Ont., a popular summer destination for visiting Americans who lived directly across Lake Ontario. Born in Hamden, Connecticut, he joined his older brother Henry Austin (1804-91), the eminent architect of New Haven, Conn., when the latter opened an office there in 1837. Merwin Austin moved to Rochester at age 31, and by 1850 had established a local reputation there with his Greek Revival design for the Monroe County Court House, Rochester, 1850.



Subsequent Uses: owned by William Burke, the Rochester Public Health Nursing Association, and Rochester Institute of Technology Graphic Arts School before becoming Landmark Society Headquarters in 1970.


The villas of Renaissance Italy inspired the Italianate style. It was popular from the 1840’s to the 1880’s. The people who preferred Italianate homes wanted their residences to look like they had been added onto over the course of several centuries, so the houses were often composed of a series of rectangles.




The Landmark Society purchased the property in 1970 and it was designated as both a city landmark and by the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Child, Jonathan, House & Brewster-Burke House Historical District.


In New Orleans…..You can’t separate nothing from nothing. Everything mingles each into the other…until nothing is purely itself but becomes part of one funky gumbo.” – Mac Rebennack A.K.A. Dr. John, Musician




Loisanna Finds Home


Everything in New Orleans is a good idea. Bijou temple-type cottages and lyric cathedrals side by side. Houses and mansions, structures of wild grace. Italianate, Gothic, Romanesque, Greek Revival standing in a long line in the rain. Roman Catholic art. Sweeping front porches, turrets, cast-iron balconies, colonnades- 30-foot columns, gloriously beautiful- double pitched roofs, all the architecture of the whole wide world and it doesn’t move. – Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1, 2004


This house was an example of the mid 19th century transition from the classical to the romantic style of architecture.