Historical Spotlight - 2364 County Road 23


New York State boasts nearly one thousand towns and villages; a significant number to be sure, but there used to be a lot more. Many of the tiny rural hamlets found across our region were at one time not so tiny, and while it may seem hard to believe today, some of these quiet backwaters once challenged even our largest local communities for economic and cultural relevance. So what happened? The maturation of the industrial revolution and the shift away from water power played a significant role, but the primary culprit was the automobile. Virtually overnight, distances that once took long hours of preparation and travel could be covered in mere minutes. Motorized transportation made the world a much smaller place, and with that, the clock began ticking on the many closely spaced autonomous townships that dotted America’s maps. Over time, the winners in this game of municipal Darwinism overtook their smaller neighbors, while other more removed places—with their pretty churches, quaint schools, charming general stores, and five room hotels—simply dried up. Houses and buildings were abandoned, and the ravages of time and less-than-artful repurposing claimed many a wonderful example of Federal and Victorian architecture.  

But not all of them. A small number never fell out of use, and some found new life in pursuits that preserved their aesthetic integrity. Today many of these survivors are prominent local landmarks, conveying a sense of permanence and serving as a reminder of a simpler time in our history.

Welcome to the Orleans Schoolhouse, which for 75 years served the children of the once-thriving community of Orleans, Ontario County. Completed in 1883, the building replaced a multi-purpose wooden structure that served as the Town’s school, court, and town hall. If you’ve never heard of Orleans…well, you could be forgiven. Located four miles south of the Village of Clifton Springs, the town dissolved as a municipality before World War II, but in its nineteenth-century heyday it boasted three churches, a large train station, a post office, twelve mills, a boot factory, a blacksmith, a carriage works, a hotel, four general stores, and of course, a school, all serving over 1000 residents. Generations of students attended school there until it closed following the formation of the Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District (aka Midlakes) in the early 1950’s, making the Orleans School among the very last of the “country schools” still operating at that time. After serving as the headquarters of the Ontario County Civil Air Defense for several years, the property was purchased by the Clifton Springs Fire Department as an auxiliary fire station, and a large two bay garage was added to the structure to house two engines. The building served in this capacity for decades, eventually becoming a community center before being offered for private sale in 2005. It was during that summer that the current owners, Dave and Jenny Marion, found the building listed for sale and fell in love with the property.

 A photo of children in the attending class in the Orleans School, circa 1910

A photo of children in the attending class in the Orleans School, circa 1910

“We were looking for something different, something special where we could carry off a tasteful conversion,” said Dave. “We looked at an old train station, a hotel, even a couple of churches, but nothing seemed promising until we found the schoolhouse.  It had incredible curb appeal, which made it easy to picture it as a home. Plus, the location was perfect; very rural, but just ten minutes to Canandaigua and forty minutes to Downtown Rochester.”   

When they took possession, amazing amounts of original detail remained intact but the property had lapsed into a state of disrepair. “The first year we were here we were practically camping. There were roof issues that needed to be addressed, little practical plumbing, and some very serious water damage that had compromised the foundation of the bell tower,” Dave explained. “We had that resolved within the first twelve months, and from there, it was a game of ‘pick-a-project’ for nearly a decade. Ten years on, the building’s become a very nice home.”

In 2009, they converted the school’s impressive attic space it into bedrooms, a project which took three months. During that time, in order to make room for the contracting team, they moved their entire household into the garage. “It wasn’t convenient, but it was actually sort of fun,” Dave recalled. “It was a fire station at one time, so the garage was large enough to bring everything we needed in with us. By the time we were finished, we had it set up like an enormous studio apartment. It was actually pretty comfortable.” 

 The village of Orleans, circa 1895. The school is seen in the center of the photo, immediately to the right of the white church.

The village of Orleans, circa 1895. The school is seen in the center of the photo, immediately to the right of the white church.

In addition to the building, the 1.1-acre property came complete with some early 20th-century playground equipment and the original bell, which hung in the school’s tower for over a century before being taken down in the 1990s.  Over the years, the current owners have also had the opportunity to meet people who’ve shared many memories of the schoolhouse, including two who had actually attended the school as children in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

“If we hadn’t purchased the building and turned it into our home, it’s hard to say what might have happened to it,” said Dave. “By doing the needed repairs and converting it over time, we not only created a really unique living space, we assured the building’s future and preserved a piece of local history. That’s important to both of us.”

So while the Village of Orleans may be lost to history, the school it built will stand watch over the once bustling little hamlet for another century, not as a place to shape young minds, but as one of the area’s most unique and historic homes.

Interested in more information? Check it out here!

Historical Spotlight - 1496 Clover Street

Are you a Rochester history buff? If so, you may recognize one of our listings located at 1496 Clover Street. This enormous home, referred to historically as the Isaac Moore-A. Emerson Babcock House, was built in 1829 by Isaac Moore and played a small role in American history in the ensuing 40 or so years.


Isaac Moore was a well-known Rochesterian, acting as businessman, landowner, political party leader, and Brighton community leader in the 1830’s. The Isaac Moore Brick Company was responsible for manufacturing and supplying large quantities of brick all throughout Rochester during a time of rapid growth and expansion. In 1829, Moore built this 5,500-square foot architectural masterpiece with all of the extraordinary detail, woodwork, and artistry that one would expect from this time period. Some of the home’s best features include six chimneys and accompanying fireplaces and three grand entrances, one of which originally opened to a porch where New York Governor William Seward gave a speech in the 1830’s.

In 1895, the then-new-owner, William Babcock, was attempting to install modern plumbing throughout the property when the basement stairs collapsed. What was revealed was a secret room that is said to have held up to twelve escaping slaves at a time during the pre-Civil War Era. The home’s proximity to the Erie Canal, as well as an arched-brick entrance to a tunnel that connected to a neighboring property, suggest that the Moore-Babcock House was part of the Underground Railroad.


Today, the owners have made sure to meticulously respect and preserve the historical integrity of the home, which is now designated a landmark home by the Town of Brighton. While you can still appreciate the secret pre-war tunnel, prospective buyers will also enjoy a newer tear-off roof, exterior and interior paint jobs, an updated kitchen with quartz countertops, rebuilt patios, re-landscaped and manicured gardens, new carpeting and flooring, etc. If you or someone you know is interested in purchasing a piece of Rochester’s history, call us today at (585) 218-6275.

DOS and DON'TS for Staging Your Home


DON’T do any major renovations.

Instead, focus your time and money on smaller updates – get rid of any wallpaper, touch up paint, remove old, dated, or matted carpets, replace light bulbs, etc. You may even consider slightly larger projects such as updating countertops, neutralizing paint with a Pottery Barn color palette, swapping out outdated fixtures, etc. Resist the urge to take on an entire kitchen renovation… this money will be better spent in your new place!

DON’T run out and purchase all new furniture.

Sure, this may seem obvious, but people do some irrational things when they’re getting ready to sell their house!! Chances are, the reason your home won’t sell will have nothing to do with the actual furniture. Perhaps you just have too much of it. Consider removing, cleaning, or sprucing up your existing furniture to make it more appealing. A new bedspread, some fresh linens, and clean towels can go a long way!


DON’T take it personally!

The transition from “homeowner” to “home seller” can be tough… My best advice is to think of your home as a product – not as the place where you raised your children or moved in for the first time with your spouse. Take any of our criticism or suggestions as free advice on how to make your product live up to its highest potential ($$$).

DO spruce up your curb appeal!

First impressions matter… Plant some flowers, mow the lawn, put out a welcome mat. Trim the bushes, pull up weeds, and sweep walkways. Of course, if it’s winter, make the property as accessible as possible – plow the driveway and clear any pathways.

DO clean, clean, CLEAN!

Dust, vacuum, Windex the windows, mop the floors. Do your best to limit any odors, especially from pets, smoking, or cooking. And don’t forget about your closets! Organize any unruly towels and linens and store away toiletries and medications. Clean until you can’t clean anymore. And then clean, again. Think: “the in-laws are in town”…


DO declutter.

Although they may not be superfluous to you, store away those figurines, newspaper piles, shoes, laundry, teacup collections - whatever! Even family photos, religious statues, & fridge magnets… Yes, these may be near and dear to your heart, but I promise that buyers would prefer to see your beautiful home, not your stuff. Less is more!

DO ask for help!!

Seriously. If you’re stuck, consider calling in a professional stager. Or, if you’ve chosen to work with us, our Client Concierge, Meaghan, would be more than happy to come over and help. She can be reached at (585) 461-6377. Never be afraid to call in reinforcements!

Get To Know The Team - Dana

Dana Epperson
Listing Coordinator

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What brought you to the Mark Siwiec Team?
My husband is a United States Marine and during his career, he is required to complete a special duty assignment. One of the choices was to spend the next 3 years as a recruiter and "unfortunately", this southern girl ended up in snowy Rochester, NY! Due to having to relocate from North Carolina to NY, I started looking for new job options and Mark Siwiec Team popped up! I actually had my first interview on my second full day in Rochester and knew during that interview that I wanted to work for the team because of the fun and positive atmosphere the team portrays.

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How many places have you lived? Which has been your favorite?
I was born and raised in a small town in Alabama, Roll Tide! I moved to Jacksonville, North Carolina with my husband where he was stationed at Camp Lejeune, and after 4 years we were relocated to Rochester, NY. I am hoping Rochester takes the spotlight as my favorite place I have lived, but this snow is making me miss the sunny beaches of Jacksonville, NC. Also, my favorite memory ever took place in NC when my husband met his baby daughter for the very first time after being in Afghanistan for 7 months. She was born a month before he came home, so I was able to witness the joy and love in his eyes when he held his tiny little girl. 

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Describe your dream vacation.
My dream vacation would be a trip to the UK. I majored in History at the University of Alabama and I especially love everything during the Tudor dynasty. So I would love to recreate history by visiting the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle and many many more places. 

Where can we find you when you're not at work?
I am a big family person so you will find me somewhere with my now 2-year old daughter, Addison or my husband. We love to be outdoors, so I am hoping to spend lots of time at Canandaigua lake or visiting the beach at Lake Ontario with our 2 pups. My golden retriever Charlie definitely needs the exercise from being cooped up this winter!


What has been the highlight of the past 12 months?
My highlight of the past 12 months would be my daughter's 2nd birthday party that we had at the beach in NC. She absolutely adores anything to do with fish and sea animals, so I created an "Under the Sea" themed party for her. I had the most fun creating the fun foods and decorations, and Addison had the best time seeing everyone and playing in the water afterward.  Our family moves around so much due to being military that we have learned to truly appreciate the time we have together as a family when things are not so crazy, and her birthday was the last calm moment we had before our big move to NY.

January Newsletter

Year in Review

Well, we didn’t see that coming!!

“That” being the “irrational exuberance” that helped to define real estate as it was conducted in Rochester this past year. Sure, we accurately predicted that there was going to be a lot of pent-up demand in the first few months of 2017- demand that resulted from buyers and sellers delaying their activity until the conclusion of the presidential election. Remarkably, almost everything else that came to pass was, like the Bills winning five of the first seven games of the season, an enormous surprise. The lack of inventory that existed during the first quarter of the year was never resolved. Throughout the year, there were more buyers than there were sellers. As a result, bidding wars never subsided. Sure, I’ve seen bidding wars play out in my 27 years in the business but nothing approaching the excitement on exhibit during the past twelve months.  To wit…

  • Erin Lewis, from our team, wrote an offer on behalf of a client only to find out that 27 other offers were written on the same property
  • Multiple offers were actually common during the middle of snow storms last winter
  • Buyers were purchasing property without having engineer’s inspections conducted 
  • I marketed a property this past spring that sold $50,000 over list price
  • Most homes were selling within 24 hours of listing
  • A lot of real estate was purchased with cash as buyers tried to distinguish themselves from the competition by eliminating the mortgage contingency

In part, the lack of inventory has to do with the fact that consumers aren’t buying and selling as often as they used to.  A few short years ago, the average homeowner would stay in their house for seven years. Today, that figure is ten years. Rather than move to a new property, owners are staying put and emulating HGTV’s Chip and Jo by renovating their existing residence.


As a result of the tight inventory, sales in the greater Rochester metropolitan area decreased approximately 3% from the previous year (actual numbers won’t be available until the end of December). My team and I are glad to report that we sold $64,000,000 in real estate this year- an increase of 5%! There are a lot of reasons why our sales continue to increase year over year. In 2017, two strategies readily jump to mind:

First, we were able to sell an inordinate amount of property without it ever hitting the market for sale. Because of the volume of business that we conduct, like Yente from Fiddler on the Roof, we’re able to match our buyers and our sellers and give both parties to the contract a leg up on the competition. Sellers enter into the agreement knowing that they will only sell their house if they secure both a pre-determined price and their ideal closing date. Buyers are thrilled to enter into this kind of agreement because it eliminates the headaches associated with the bidding wars that I described earlier.  

Secondly, I think that the strategy of hiring a client concierge a couple of years ago was the right one. Increasingly, clients are aware that a member of our staff is available to help them secure estimates from contractors or unlock the house for Spectrum/Time Warner- all free of charge. As a result, our referral –rate continues to hover at about 77%.


My year in review wouldn’t be complete without some thoughts about the art of pricing. Our team oversaw approximately 225 transactions this past year. The commonality associated with each successful sale had to do with a commitment on the part of the seller to list their house for the appropriate price. If they did so, inevitably, the home would sell within 24-36 hours of listing, with multiple offers, over asking price. In many ways, my job wasn’t simply about listing homes for sale. Instead, my job transmuted to one in which I was responsible for strategically creating bidding wars and selling homes for ridiculous sums of money. Frankly, it was a lot of fun! Those few individuals who chose to list at a price of their determination often found that their house would languish on the market for several months and, if it sold, it sold at a price far below what they would have enjoyed if they had only been more realistic to begin with. I’m always glad to list at whatever price a client deems appropriate- unfortunately, an unrealistic valuation proved to be a money-losing strategy for the three or four clients who chose to pursue this particular road.

Year To Come

So, as I begin to think about the coming year’s real estate market, I’m sensing continued vitality. Both the national and the local economies are doing well. There are still a lot of buyers out there who haven’t purchased the home that they were hoping to buy in 2017. Additionally, interest rates remain low. The thirty-year rate is currently pegged at 4% while a fifteen-year mortgage can be secured for 3.5%.  The Federal Reserve has indicated that, as a result of a strengthening economy, they’re going to continue raising interest rates in the coming twelve months. However, each increase is expected to be modest. In other words, the Fed will try to combat the possibility of inflation without raising rates so dramatically that they dampen economic growth. The great and obvious unknown is the Federal Tax Bill that has just passed the US Senate. Both the House and the Senate need to resolve the differences between their respective bills and are expected to do so by the end of December. Only then will we know if or how it is that this sweeping legislation will impact our local market. My gut tells me that, because 16% of the US economy is tied to real estate sales, any potential impact will be offset by the buoyant forces that I described in the beginning of the paragraph.

Our Team


Personally, as we gear up for the year to come, the team and I completed our annual review of our business model. We discussed, as we do every year, that which is working and that which needs to be tinkered with. We read a few business books to inspire us. (If you haven’t read Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog, do so! This story of the founding and growth of Nike is incredible. Angela Duckworth’s Grit is another great book for those looking for motivation).The takeaway is that The Mark Siwiec Team has finally gotten the formula right. It’s the reason that we’ve enjoyed an 84% increase in our sales in the past five years. Sure, a few minor processes will be tightened. However, other than the addition of a part-time assistant, everything seems to be playing out exactly as we had projected and we obviously don’t want to interfere with an already proven formula of success!

As always, thank you for your amity and your support. My life remains enriched as a result of the many friendships and, seemingly, hundreds of relationships that I enjoy throughout our community. And, as a result of your kind words and referrals, our business continues to flourish.  Enjoy the few remaining days of the holiday season and best wishes for the year to come!