“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Rochester in Monroe County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Champion of the Genesee River / A Beacon of Knowledge

Champion of the Genesee River image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, October 31, 2015
1. Champion of the Genesee River
West side of marker.
"Champion of the Genesee River" [west side]
Bill Davis was born May 6, 1918 in Plymouth, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Penn State University as an industrial engineer and came to Rochester in 1939 where he worked for the Eastman Kodak Company. He married Lois Patrick in 1940. Lois and Bill bought a house in Charlotte where they raised four children and became involved in community activities. When he retired from Kodak in 1976, Bill was Superintendent of a manufacturing division.
The commitment to community became a driving force during Bill's retirement years. As a member of the Charlotte Community Association, he and his neighbors fought against the installation of oil tanks in the lower gorge at Boxart Street. His efforts to preserve the natural beauty of that area resulted in the creation of Turning Point Park.
He organized the Charlotte Action Plan in 1976 as an arm of the CCA. This grass roots citizen-based effort focused on long-range planning for the promotion and protection of Charlotte's resources- the river and the lakefront. Scout troups restored the Village Cemetery and summer programs began at Ontario Beach Park. "Rediscover Charlotte" soon expanded into rediscovering the river, involving other neighborhood groups, history buffs, hikers and geologists who dedicated themselves to the celebration of our local
A Beacon of Knowledge image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, October 31, 2015
2. A Beacon of Knowledge
East side of Marker
resource- the Genesee River. Today we know this as the annual event as [sic] "River Romance".
Bill was the first chairman of the Rochester Environmental Commission. He has been instrumental in the development of river trails in Rochester. His infectious enthusiasm for preservation included teaching courses at the Rochester Museum and Science Center, making a series of videos on river history for local libraries, and encouraging young people to enjoy nature. He began his long committment to the Genesee Valley Project at School #6, taking students on field trips along the river, developing slide shows for classroom use and sharing his unique gift as the "Pied Piper of the Genesee."
As a historian focused on local history, Bill pioneered research on the early settlements that formed Rochester's history- Charlotte, McCrackenville, King's Landing, Frankfort and Castletown. His mentors were other historians and long-time residents' oral histories. His unique ability to listen, as well as speak, has preserved local lore and history for generations to come.
Starting in 1982, his lifelong interest in neighborhood history would focus on the restoration of the Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse, whose light had been abandoned for almost 100 years.
Perhaps Bill will be most remembered and admired for his uncanny ability to involve others in his projects. He has spent a lifetime working
Eastward - Foot of Stutson Street image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, October 31, 2015
3. Eastward - Foot of Stutson Street
Marker at center of overlook. Many markers here.
with both individuals and groups, encouraging and teaching them to preserve the past for the future.
When plans were initiated for the replacement of the Stutson Street Bridge, the idea surfaced to pay tribute to the man who has touched the lives of so many in our area. What would be more appropriate than dedicating this area to Bill Davis along the river trail that he spent a lifetime in developing. It overlooks the river that he loves and is in sight of the lighthouse, where he has been a beacon of knowledge and a guiding light to others.

"A Beacon of Knowledge" [east side]
Charlotte and its lighthouse would not be what it is today without the contributions of Bill Davis and his commitment to his neighborhood. The Charlotte community and Neighbors Building Neighborhoods- Sector 1 takes great pride in honoring Bill Davis for all that he has done for Charlotte and all of Rochester by establishing the BILL DAVIS OVERLOOK and dedicating it to the man who has done so much for our community.
In 1976, local history and the Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse became a focal point for the Charlotte Community Association. Tours of the local village cemetery were started and attention then focued on the neglected lighthouse property. Although owned by the Federal government, local residents formed a group that worked with the Coast Guard to encourage preservation of the structure.
This led to the formation of the Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse Historical Society in 1982, whose goal was to restore the grounds, the 1822 tower and the 1863 keeper's house. When the society acquired a lease and set up a museum, Bill Davis headed up the preservation efforts that involved many individuals and organizations. The property was turned over to the County of Monroe and today the Society operates the museum under a long-term lease agreement. In 1984, the lighthouse opened it doors in celebration of the Rochester Sesquicentennial (1834-1984). That same year, the society received a national award for its outstanding commitment to the restoration of the lighthouse, which has become the symbol of the Charlotte community.
Bill worked with other Society members in a major effort to have students from Edison Technical High School rebuild a lantern for the tower that would replicate the original one that had been moved to the Charlotte pier in the 1880's. The restoration of the lighthouse was a cause for celebration for the Charlotte community, the Rochester area and lighthouse buffs from across the country. Visitors could come and admire the newly restored tower, the second oldest on the Great Lakes. The lighthouse is listed on the New York State and National Register of Historic Places.
Over the next twenty years, Bill Davis' contributions to the lighthouse would include service as President, Restoration Director, Curator, Editor of the lighthouse newsletter, Chairman of the Village History group, Chair of the Education Committee and board trustee. He is one of the few that have been awarded "Lifetime Member" status from the historical society. He has given countless talks, slideshow presentations and authored a number of articles for the lighthouse, Rochester Historical Society and other local publications. He has given tours to student and Elderhostel groups and has been an active participant in Seaway Trail activities. He has devoted his retirement years to sharing his enthusiasm with others and actively encouraging their participation. Few people could match Bill's work ethic and relentless dedication towards preservation.
Bill has been a tremendous resource for local schools, authors and countless historians. His knowledge and long-standing commitment to the preservation of neighborhood history is also reflected in his participation in projects such as the Charlotte Branch Library and the Christopher Blossom painting that is the focal point of this overlook.
Erected by City of Rochester, Monroe County Dept. Transportation, New York State Dept. Transportation, Bill Davis Overlook Commitee.
Location. 43° 14.966′ N, 77° 36.717′ W. Marker is in Rochester, New York, in Monroe County. Marker is at the intersection of Stutson Street and River Street on Stutson Street. Click for map. Charlotte is a neighborhood of the City of Rochester. Marker is in this post office area: Rochester NY 14612, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Village of Charlotte (here, next to this marker); Port of the Genesee, New York (here, next to this marker); Stutson Street Bridge (here, next to this marker); Boat Building (here, next to this marker); Irondequoit and its Waterfront (here, next to this marker); Crossing the River by Ferry (here, next to this marker); Resort Area (here, next to this marker); Lighthouses (here, next to this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Rochester.
Categories. Charity & Public WorkEducationEnvironmentWaterways & Vessels
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 120 times since then and 46 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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