New Year’s Day Tradition Remembered in Corn Hill
“Memories of a New Year’s Day” will be performed in Corn Hill on Thursday December 29 at 7:00 p.m.
This walking tour, beginning at Ralph Avery Mall at the foot of Frederick Douglass Street between Plymouth Avenue and Adams Street, uses songs, readings and stories about the old Third Ward, as the neighborhood was known before it acquired the Corn Hill name.
Historical Third Ward figures represented during the hour-long presentation include Katherine Rochester Montgomery, Virginia Jeffrey Smith, Charles Mulford Robinson, Samuel Hopkins Adams, and a curious person known only as “A Bachelor.” Corn Hill historian Jim DeVinney serves as narrator.
The free tour, which premiered last year, is inspired by a chapter in Adams’ book Grandfather Stories. A popular journalist and author during the first half of the 19th Century, Adams’ father was pastor of the Plymouth Congregational Church that once stood at the corner of Plymouth and Troup Street. Grandfather had been an official in the early days of the Erie Canal.
In the story, Adams describes how he and his cousins visited a series of open houses that took place on New Year’s Day in the famous Ruffled Shirt District, especially at homes with daughters of a marketable age. The boys were too young to be interested in anyone’s daughters but they were eager to sample the wonderful food served on this occasion. Before the day is done, they experience both adventure and misadventure.
The tour provides stories that are humorous, nostalgic and, in one case tragic, as it defines the rise and fall of the Third Ward and its rebirth as Corn Hill. Performers include Ira Srole, Sally J. Millick, Katrina Grbesic, Kevin Petrichick and Shawn Gray.
James A. DeVinney has been Corn Hill’s historian for the past two years. In that capacity, he leads tours through the historic neighborhood and writes a monthly column for the Corn Hill Gazette. Before he retired, he was a TV producer and filmmaker, earning four television Emmys, four Peabodys, an Academy Award nomination, and numerous journalism awards.