Photography by George Payne
“The neighborhood we know as the South Wedge began in the 1820s as a series of small houses owned by families tied to the Erie Canal trade. The Old Stone Warehouse, the oldest commercial building in Rochester, was built here in 1822. The area was actually part of Brighton until Rochester annexed it in 1834 as a buffer region for future growth. In the 1840s George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry of Ellwanger and Barry fame founded their nursery on what was then Grand Avenue (South Avenue today). By the time Frederick Douglass moved to South Ave in the 1860s, the area was flourishing, with the city’s first street railway, a plank road, and a hospital. Douglass’s house still stands at the corner of Hamilton and Bond Streets.
After World War II, however, the Wedge began a slow decline as residents moved to the suburbs. Businesses closed until the Wedge hit rock bottom in the 1970s. Nearly 200 homes and over 25% of all housing units were vacant and prostitution was “rampant” on South Avenue. Still, long-time residents took a stand against the decay and founded the South Wedge Planning Committee in 1973. The Wedge was first published five years later to document the neighborhood’s fight against crime, blight, and vacancy. By placing an emphasis on safety and neighborhood pride, the SWPC brought about a gradual but highly successful renaissance.
Revitablization work continues to the present. In 2006 neighborhood groups transformed a vacant lot populated by drug dealers into Nathaniel Square Park. A sculpture of city founder Nathaniel Rochester was unveiled in 2008 as the park’s centerpiece. The sculpture, which shows Rochester sitting in reflection, was the work of Pepsy Kettavong.
The Linden-South Historic District, comprised of 81 properties on South Avenue and Linden Street, was named “significant in history, architecture, design, archeology and culture” by the State and National Registers of Historic Places.”
Taken from rocwiki.org/South_Wedge
The The Historic German House & Auditorium is an historical building in the South Wedge. It was originally a parish hall for St. Boniface Church but has served as a restaurant since 1924. Today it serves as a banquet hall for wedding receptions, rehearsal dinners, lectures, parties, concerts, and neighborhood gatherings.
“A great democracy has got to be progressive or it will soon cease to be great or a democracy.”
― Theodore Roosevelt,
“Fame is fun, money is useful, celebrity can be exciting, but finally life is about optimal well-being and how we achieve that in dominator culture, in a greedy culture, in a culture that uses so much of the world’s resources. How do men and women, boys and girls, live lives of compassion, justice and love? And I think that’s the visionary challenge for feminism and all other progressive movements for social change.”
― bell hooks
Nineteenth-century grass-roots populism made twentieth-century progressivism possible. Jill Lepore
South Wedge Mission
We are beloved children of God, and no one can tell us otherwise. We are proud forgiven sinners, neither ashamed of our brokenness, nor obsessed with our failures, boasting only in the foolishness of the Cross of Christ. We strive to be practitioners of resurrection, seekers of wonder, and daredevils of delight.
Our vocations are many: we are teachers, social workers, scientists, nurses, mercenaries, veterans, addicts, artists, activists, entrepeneurs, programmers, unemployed, underemployed and overemployed too. We are gay, straight, old, young, single, married, parents, children, the un-churched, re-churched, non-churched, anti-church, and everything in between. We are the church in this place. Because the Gospel is for us, and for all.