“Save the Wall” in Geneseo is rebuilding a historic wall and “gateway to the community”


GENESEO, N.Y. (WROC) — “Save the Wall” is a campaign and project to rebuild a historic wall dating back to the 1850’s in Geneseo, using the original stones and other new materials.

For eight years now, hundreds of volunteers have donated an estimated six thousand hours on Saturdays in the summer months, and the project has received almost $100,000 in donations and grants.

News 8’s Dan Gross got a chance to visit with the volunteers today, and learned why this mile-long wall means so much to the community.

“It’s the gateway to our community, and we tried to see if there was any interest in restoring it,” Kurt Cylke, the self-described head cheerleader of the project, said. He’s also a board member for the association for the preservation of Geneseo as the Save the Wall Chair.

“We’re doing one day at at time, one stone at a time,” the head mason of the project, John White, said. His company – along with his father, John Sr. – trains the volunteers. White is also a sixth-generation mason, as far as he can trace back.

“(It’s a) community that works together. It’s not just one person, but hundreds,” said White. “We watched a young man grow up from eight years old, now he’s going to college now soon.”

“This was a disaster,” Jared MacKenzie said while referring to a section of the wall that he mended. “Before this might have been a hole here, or a couple rocks were missing over there, and I put those in there. You can say that’ll be there for the next hundred years, so i will have done something now that will last longer than me.”

“We call antiquing the mortar. We’re trying to keep the age of the wall correct,” Joyce Wechsler said, who’s one of the older volunteers on the wall… Though she wouldn’t reveal her exact age. “I love the town, the wall was important to me.”

“Best part about this you can fit the stones together,” White said as he laying stone. “You hate to see things just disappear… Even the little ones count.”

“It reminds you of your origins,” Cylke said. “It reminds you of the history of your community, and it helps establish a sense of place. Being grounded with a sense of place and community is extraordinarily important.”

Cylke also told us that for every one person who helps on the wall, another five or six help out behind the scenes.

You can find out more about their project, volunteer, and information on how to contribute, here.

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