Northwest Neighborhoods - Edgerton, Dewey and Driving Park

Northwest Quadrant - Edgerton/Dewey and Driving Park (NIMROD)

Edgerton-Community-Center“Great character” are words often used to describe the historic Edgerton Neighborhood. Along Lake Avenue, once Rochester’s most prestigious, distinctive 19th century grand dame residences bump elbows with 20th century apartment buildings.

The area was once an elite address for city notables such as George Eastman and Margaret Woodbury (her toy collection later became the basis of Strong National Museum of Play). It lost some of its luster in the mid-20th century, but it is determined to reclaim it in the 21st.

Never dimming, however, were Edgerton’s green spaces. The firm of Frederick Law Olmsted designed Jones Square Park, one of the city’s oldest public squares. It was used as a training ground for Civil War soldiers and as early baseball fields. Each year in May and August, the Neighborhood Association organizes a Jones Park Festival that combines a picnic and health fair for area residents.

Jones-Square-ParkThe Neighborhood’s second park, Edgerton, is located on the former site of The Western House of Refuge, the first state-supported institution in the U.S. for “juvenile delinquents." Opened in 1849, it was emptied in 1947, when the children were sent to a new countryside facility in Rush, N.Y. Its complex of buildings was used, in turn, as a library, museum, winter zoo, exposition site and hockey rink. The “Rochester Cardinals” Hockey team played there from 1935-36. The 1951 National Basketball Association champion “Rochester Royals” held games in the Arena from 1945 to 1955.

Today Jefferson High School and Edgerton Recreation Center are located in the two remaining buildings on the site.

Edgerton Recreation Center houses the Stardust Ballroom, which is rented out for community events. In the basement, the Model Train Room has attracted visitors of all ages since the early 1950s. Former Rochester Police Department Captain Henry H. Jensen built the train set while The Rochester Art Club painted dioramas depicting the four seasons as a backdrop.

More recently, the Neighborhood awaits plans for Edgerton Park, which will include the addition of a water park for children.

Currently, some 5,000 residents live within Edgerton’s boundaries, which extend to Driving Park on the north, the Genesee River to the east, south to Lyell Avenue and west to Wren Street. Wren Street is part of a curious aviary theme early urban designers chose for nearby streets. The “Bird Streets” also include Dove, Lark and Canary.

The smaller Dewey and Driving Park/NIMROD Neighborhood, within the Edgerton Neighborhood, is made up of Brozel Street on the north, Pierpoint Street on the east, Straub Street on the south and Selye Terrace on the west. NIMROD (The Neighborhood in Motion to Root out Drugs and Violence) is a long-running community organization that meets monthly at the Grace United Methodist Church on Driving Park Avenue.