Former cold storage building recognized

21 Sep

In our daily lives, we frequently walk by or drive by things of historical significance without even realizing it.

Such is the case with the building at 206 North Ave. in the Village of Webster. Most of us know it as Climate Controlled Self Storage, or “that place where you can rent U-Hauls.” Fewer of us realize the building has a long and rich history in our village, a history that recently earned it recognition as the Webster Village Historic Preservation Commission’s September Site of the Month.

In the early 1920s, the building at 206 North Ave. was known as Webster Cold Storage, a cooperative created by local apple growers including Louis Kittelberger, George Hosenfeld, William Stokes, George Dunn and Earl Wright. In her book Webster Through the Years, Esther Dunn reported that the building had about 400,000 cubic feet of space, enough for 50,000 barrels of apples.

Over the next four decades, the Cold Storage building saw many changes in both the facility itself and the products stored there. In 1923, an addition was made to install an ice-making tank, and years later, more than half of the space was converted from coolers to locker space. The variety of produce stored there over the years is impressive: apples, cherries, grapes, peaches, prunes, berries, currants, all sorts of vegetables, and even seafood.

Before it closed in March 1965, Webster Cold Storage had become a true community business. Even individual residents leased some space for their own use.

But the building’s history is not the only reason it was recognized by the Historic Preservation Commission. Members of the commission choose their Sites of the Month based not just on the site’s history, but also what its current owner has done to maintain and improve the property.

The building’s present owner, Dimitri Stefanou, has made significant improvements since purchasing it in 2002. It needed a lot of repairs, and when Stefanou started planning how to redevelop the property, he decided to return it to its original purpose, storage, saying that he hoped “to once again make (the) building a landmark.”

Stefanou put windows along the front of the building and added an office, and even managed to build the storage units around existing pillars. But the top two floors were still empty, and rather than turning them into storage units as well, Stefanou decided to take the renovations to a whole new level and create luxury apartments.

The Lofts of Webster was created, 20 luxury units on the third and fourth floors, complete with a private resident entrance, a porte cochere, a new elevator and fitness area. Outside, he added a vegetable garden, a flower garden, and a huge picnic table for the residents to enjoy.

The improvements are kind of a reincarnation for this historic building, assuring its position once again as an vital part of the Webster Village community.

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(posted 9/21/2022)

3 Responses to “Former cold storage building recognized”

  1. Cindy frank September 21, 2022 at 11:14 pm #

    Great historical info on village of Webster. Also didn’t know about the loft apts, gardens etc!! Thx for the info.

  2. Beatrice Smith September 22, 2022 at 3:41 pm #

    There was private freezer space that was rented out to individual families.
    Years ago not every family had their own freezer. My father worked there for twenty years.

    I remember the wooden elevator loaded to take the produce moved upstairs from the docks.

    So happy to see this building brought back to life.

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