The annual Corn Hill Arts Festival takes place this weekend, July 7-8, in Rochester’s Old Third Ward, exactly where Shop One was located.
It is the 44th year for Corn Hill; had Shop One persisted, it would have been its 60th anniversary.
Shop One was Frans Wildenhain’s entrepreneurial business innovation with three colleagues: SAC professors Tage Frid and John (Jack) Prip and former SAC student Ronald Pearson. The School for American Craftsmen had taken residence at RIT beginning 1950. And having a retail outlet for handcrafted art was a novelty; only one other city in America had such a store at the time.
First located on Ford Street, Shop One quickly outgrew that venue. Within six months, it reopened at 77 Troup Street in a carriage house behind a substantial Victorian mansion. Back then, the “ruffled shirt crowd,” as one journalist described residents, had long departed. Another writer characterized Shop One’s 1950s neighborhood as Rochester’s Greenwich Village.
By the early 1970s, Shop One moved to 221 Alexander Street, across from Genesee Hospital. A changing downtown business ambience and population coupled with first the disruption caused by construction and then the divisive intrusion of interstate highways were motives for the move.
Alas, within five years Shop One had gone out of business. The Corn Hill Festival began in 1968 as a neighborhood event. Frans Wildenhain’s Shop One paved the way for such large, outdoor craft festivals. With the irony that today the Festival attracts 400 craft artists-vendors and a quarter million visitors.