Some Local Coverage Towards End of Inn / Market Saga
Relocating mature trees, plans to move a building, assorted angry citizens, local merchants tossed out, and
Pleasant celebrates the grand opening of "her" inn.
Site to Look a Sight Better:
Project moves trees to improve lake vista from Aurora Inn
Syracuse Post-Standard, 18 December 2002
By Beth Beer
Shannon Lambert was awaiting the arrival of a 250-ton crane Tuesday to relocate two
24-inch diameter spruce trees.
Lambert and a crew from National Shade, a tree expert company with its headquarters
in Houston, Texas, had already moved 10 trees from the Aurora Inn's back yard to
the side yards.
The tree relocation project is the Aurora Foundation's effort to open up the view
of Cayuga Lake to visitors staying at the inn in downtown Aurora. National Shade
began relocating dogwoods, crab apples, spruce trees and a grove of cedars on Dec.
Catharine B. Waller, executive director of the foundation, declined to give the cost
of the project.
The process is labor-intensive. Workers hand-dig around the trees and their roots
and excavate them. The roots are then wrapped in burlap. Wire fencing holds the burlap
in place. Pipes are driven underneath the burlap so the tree can be lifted.
National Shade has relocated trees in Washington, D.C., and at the University of Tampa
in Florida. National Shade's Rochester office will provide follow-up care to ensure
the trees' health and growth.
"The larger trees we lift with cranes," said Carol Carney, a contract administrator
with National Shade. "The smaller ones, especially the grove of cedars, are moved
by a 10,000-pound all-terrain forklift."
Carney said the larger trees can weigh up to 60,000 pounds. Carney said she expects
the crew to be finished by the end of the week.
"They even have light stands to hand-dig at night," Carney said. "We're trying to
get out of everybody's way be cause it's such a tight job site."
While the trees were relocated Tuesday, contractors were also working on the storm
sewers and drainage and finishing up the interior reconstruction of the inn.
The inn's back yard is currently a mound of soil. Waller said the next step in the
inn's renovations is to complete the final grading of the land and design plans for
the inn's walkway, terrace and yard.
The inn, which was built as the Aurora House in 1833 by E.B. Morgan, co-founder of
The New York Times, is scheduled to be opened this coming spring. It is owned by
the Aurora Foundation, a limited liability company formed by Wells College and Pleasant
Rowland, a wealthy alumna. The partnership was formed to operate and develop commercial
properties in Aurora. The college owns the properties, while Rowland provides the
Village may get a better lake view
The Auburn Citizen, 23 November 2002
by Craig Fox
AURORA - Pleasant T. Rowland wants to move a small Main Street building six feet to
give customers of the Fargo restaurant a better view of Cayuga Lake.
The building, which most recently housed the Gratitude and Co. store, is now vacant.
The Aurora Foundation, the organization that Rowland started to oversee renovations
of several village buildings, has no current plans for the use of the small wood
structure about the size of a residential garage.
Rowland has approached the village's planning board with the idea to move the building
six feet to the south and closer to the Aurora post office. The building relocation
would also provide more space for a small park between the new market building and
the former Gratitude store, said Steve McGlynn, the foundation's director of real estate
and facilities. No action has been taken by the village.
Gratitude, which makes gift boxes, outgrew the tiny one-story building and moved to
"I wouldn't say there's a done deal," McGlynn said about moving the garage. The foundation
has yet to look into the feasibility of moving the building or how much it would
cost, McGlynn said.
Rowland may also change her mind about the idea and withdraw her proposal because
she may not have a problem of the lake's view now that some scaffolding has been
taken down on the Vanderipe Building, the two-story brick structure that will house
the new market, McGlynn said.
The Aurora Foundation and Wells College are working together as partners on the $6
million renovation to the Aurora Inn. Work continues on the historic landmark, which
is scheduled to reopen in April.
Meanwhile, some contaminated soil has been found on the Fargo restaurant construction
site. Workers discovered the contaminated soil, which will be tested by a Syracuse-based
environmental firm, in the back of the tavern where an addition is being built, said Ed Brockner, the village code enforcement officer. Work has not stopped at the
Fargo because of the soil problems, he said.
More Damage to Aurora's Way of Life
The Auburn Citizen, 1 December 2002
Letter to the Editor
Anyone who remembers Aurora as if was until last year, and knows what it looks like
now, would be puzzled by the headline, "Village may get a better lake view." The
village had a better view before the huge addition to the Aurora Inn.
This structure was built over a public right-of-way which provided handicapped and
vehicle access to the lake. Even if the store to the south is moved, the grade is
too steep to provide such access.
Perhaps the oddest feature is the idea that moving the store six feet will allow creation
of a "small park." The space to which the building would be moved is already a small
Poor planning today won't repair the poor plans of yesterday.
Linda Schwab, Aurora
From Aurora Inn to"Rowland's Ramada"
The Auburn Citizen, 23 November 2002
Letter to the Editor
(Photo, Aurora Inn c. 1910; caption provided: "The Aurora Inn on Main Street in Aurora
as it looked when it was the Wayside Inn. The inn, built in 1833, escaped the Feb.
26, 1919 fire that destroyed much of the village's business district, but could not
elude financial difficulties that prompted it to close two years ago. Wells college
alumna Pleasant Rowland and the college formed the Aurora Foundation to renovate
some of the village's oldest buildings, including the Aurora Inn. The $6-million
renovation is about 60 percent complete." )
As Jennifer Miller wrote in the July 22, 2001 Auburn Citizen
, I am the great-granddaughter of Dr. Kerr Duncan Macmillan, the Wells College President
credited with saving the Aurora Inn from fire in 1919. I've been following your
coverage of the inn project long-distance from Florida.
Although it was lovely to see my great-grandfather's contribution to saving the inn
written up in the November 17, 2002 edition, there are several details in the article
that warrant clarification.
First, workers in Aurora are not engaged in "restoration", or "preservation" but,
as stated publicly by the NY State Historic Preservation Office, a "gut rehab" which
is irreparably damaging a previously rare and intact federal period inn. The National
Trust for Historic Preservation and the Preservation League of NYS concur, vigorously
opposing this project in court, and asserting that the result will retain none of
the inn's essential historic character.
Second, Wells College is not "saving the cornerstone of the village's business district";
it has destroyed all but its brick shell.
Third, the building that is being erected on the site of the old market is a monstrosity
that ruins the view from the street and dwarfs the Inn just next to it. The only
resemblance to the Vanderipe building it replaces is that it will again house a market.
From Wayside Inn to Aurora Inn, the finished product promises to more closely resemble
a Ramada Inn.
Yes indeed, "Rowland would like to again see Aurora like it was in the 1960s, when
she was a Wells student". It would behoove us all to pay close attention to the
proposed master plan for the Wells College campus, which includes removing world-renowned
buildings constructed after she graduated. More than a thousand alumnae -- over 15%
of all living Wells graduates -- have signed a petition protesting aspects of the
master plan for Wells. We continue to be ignored by the Wells administration and
our concerns downplayed by the Aurora Foundation and the college.
(Ms. Macmillan, M.S., a 1984 graduate of Wells College, writes from Tallahassee, Fla.)
Powerful, misguided people have hurt the Aurora Inn
The Auburn Citizen, 27 November 2002
Letter to the Editor
The charred roof beams of the Aurora Inn, which were discovered a week or two ago,
concrete credence to this building's history of surviving the major fire which burned
down a number of buildings in the center of the village of Aurora in 1919.
This historic inn of 1833, survived the flames of this fire which occurred during
WWI; but in the years 2001 and 2202, this Aurora Inn has not survived the fire of
some woman named P. Rowland.
The bankrupt ethics of this megabuck woman have allowed her to destroy all but the
outer shell of this historically valuable building, built some 20 or so years before
the Civil War. During the fire of 1919, Wells College president Kerr Macmillan helped
organize the bucket brigade to wet down this inn's roof, and thus quell the flames
of the fire to prevent the inn from burning down. Now, however, in these present
years, current Wells College president L. Marsh Ryerson -- noteworthy for being without
her doctorate, and thus unqualified to be president of this, or any college -- this L.
Ryerson, has fanned the flames of millionaire Rowland in Rowland's flaming passion
to destroy historically significant artifacts in and about this Aurora Inn.
Gone, gone, gone is the fine front porch, well maintained and graceful in its longevity
in adorning this inn. Meanwhile, inside this structure, the original staircase and
its accompanying banister is now destroyed, along with the e original layout of the
interior, all of which gave this building meaningful context and reason to be in the
U.S. Historical Register.
The fires of two women, one with too much money, the other with too much power, have
destroyed a history which belongs to the whole country, as expressed in the National
Historical Register. Millionaire Rowland and president L. Marsh Ryerson have shown
no burning intelligence, and the history we citizens are left with includes a few charred
beams and an empty shell of history, representing what was once a beautiful and functional
piece of architecture.
David Kauber, Aurora
Rowland puts local merchants out of business.
The Grand Opening of the Aurora Inn, May 2003.
including numerious editorials, go to a site linking the Pleasant Plan for the Village to her Master Plan for Wells College: http://www.geocities.com/savetheartsatwells/village.html
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