James H. Johnson, Rochester’s most imaginative mid-20th-century architect, is best known for the renowned “Mushroom House” in Perinton, NY, and St. John the Evangelist Church in Greece, NY. Over the course of his nearly 60-year career in Rochester, he designed more than 400 projects, but only a handful ever received public acclaim.
After the loss of an important but previously little-known Johnson building in Greece, the Greece Historical Society hired a team of architects and architectural historians to document Johnson’s work. The team spent a year and a half reviewing original drawings, interviewing colleagues, sorting through original slides and clippings, and visiting strange and marvelous buildings to develop a fuller picture of this stunning, and largely unknown, body of work.
This program features original photographs and videos from Johnson’s personal collection that will take you inside some of the Rochester area’s most daring and audacious buildings. Presented by Christopher Brandt and Katie Eggers-Comeau. Rochester’s Rich History is a program of the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County’s Local History & Genealogy Division. This session was streamed live on Zoom on November 21, 2020.
Brandt is an architect at Bero Architecture, a firm with a legacy of over forty years of historic preservation practice. He was born and raised in the Rochester region and has been active in its historic preservation community since high school. Chris received a BS in Architecture from the University at Buffalo, and a M-Arch with a certificate in Historic Preservation from the University of Virginia. Outside of his day job restoring and adapting old buildings, he serves as the Advocacy and Education Coordinator of the Young Urban Preservationists, obsessive-compulsively researches local history, and is DIY-restoring the small historic home he shares with his wife.
Eggers Comeau is the architectural historian at Bero Architecture. She assists clients throughout western New York with historic resource surveys, National Register nominations, and tax credit applications. A native of the Rochester area, she has a B.A. in Humanities from Yale and an M.S. in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania. After working for a few years at a preservation consulting firm in Washington, D.C., she moved back to Rochester to take a job at the Landmark Society of Western New York. She recently completed her service as a trustee of the National Association for Olmsted Parks and frequently gives presentations on Rochester’s historic park system.