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. 9.

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 financing.


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 Ithaca.

"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 park.

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


Evictions Create Unpleasant Mood:

Rowland puts local merchants out of business.

Rowland Surveys Domain:

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:

Return to Publicity