Yesterday, the Regional Economic Development Council grant awards were announced. The Finger Lakes region received the most funding of the 10 regions, at $96.2 million. The Landmark Society was thrilled to find out that we were among those awarded economic development funds. The $50,000 grant (administered through the New York State Council on the Arts) will fund our new African American Landmarks Project.
The African American Landmarks Project is a new initiative aimed at identifying landmarks of significance in the African American history of Rochester, New York; recognizing their importance both historically and culturally; and helping those that are endangered to qualify for tax credits or spark interest in their preservation or reuse. Since many of these sites are in urban neighborhoods in need of assistance, we believe that this will be the basis for an effort to revitalize entire blocks or neighborhoods in the City of Rochester. Rochester was the home of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and it was a major stop on the Underground Railroad. The effort will be spearheaded by a Committee comprised of Landmark Society staff and volunteer leaders from the African American community.
The Landmark Society of Western New York has a 75-year history of working cooperatively on other projects and reinvesting in urban neighborhoods in Rochester to encourage economic reinvestment and turn decaying neighborhoods around. This project will ultimately result in residences and businesses in downtown Rochester through economically viable adaptation of properties.