Nonprofits sought to help preserve Canandaigua property

Author Ari Berk once said “If the Land can be preserved long enough for its stories to be told, and retold, perhaps we all — as custodians of both place and memory — stand a chance at real preservation.”

This is the story of one family working to preserve four remaining acres of just one hillside, lakeview farm. Rather than see it cut up into four building lots, they want it to continue to be shared with as many people as possible, especially those who can’t afford a lake view property.

“I’m sorry I didn’t give you a diamond ring” he said. Waving her hand out across the sun dappled lake, “You gave me thousands of diamonds” came her reply.

He had grown up on one side of Canandaigua Lake, she on the other. Meeting when he was a young man doing business in real estate, she a young school teacher, they fell in love. Shortly after getting married she left teaching to join him in the business, becoming the first female Realtor in their town.

Then, just as thousands of couples before and after them, George and Anne Bigham began searching for a spot to call home.

George found a farm and bought it before telling Anne. The parcel had been the homestead of the Durand/Green family, who had grown apples, grapes and peaches on the hillside for approximately 80 years. For the ensuing 10 years, the property had gone in between estates until George and Anne purchased it in March of 1916. The house was in rough shape and needed two years of restoration before they could move into it in the spring of 1918.

Over time, it turned out Anne had a better head for real estate while George’s heart drew him back to raising heirloom sheep. “Why’d you buy that side hill farm?” his relatives asked? “Your sheep are going to have two legs shorter on one side than the other” they chided. He didn’t mind, he loved these acres with their wide view above the lake and beneath the sky and they loved him back. “It’s so peaceful here,” visitors to the hill would say, surrounded by a star-drenched night sky with the humming shrill of crickets filling the air.

The Canandaigua Messenger:
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