One of America’s First Suburban Malls Gets Chance to Square Its Debt

In a time when malls fail [daily], historic Valentown Hall, a modern American shopping center prototype, has a chance to clear its debt via a challenge from its sole remaining creditor: Raise $50K by Oct. 25, 2012 and $350K of debt will be forgiven.
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Valentown Oak Tree - dates earlier than 1735
Valentown Oak Tree - dates earlier than 1735
Sept. 25, 2012 - PRLog -- Originally conceived in the 1870s by visionary businessman Levi Valentine, Valentown was meant to serve both as the center of a new community in what’s now Victor, NY, and the community’s connection with the Pittsburgh, Shawmut, and Northern Railroad when (as rumor had it at the time) it would pass through that area of western NY state. Valentown Hall combined a synergistic mix of private businesses, public meeting spaces, and post-secondary schools under a single roof. The Hall served as an important regional center for the Victor regions Grange movement, and played a role in the establishment of the region’s important seed-potato industry.

Even though the railroad went bust before it got to Victor, the Valentown Hall came close to fulfilling Levi Valentine’s vision. Most of its core businesses continued to operate through the First World War, when Valentown Hall served as a center of activity for recruiting and fund drives.

Hard Times and Redemption

The Hall fell on hard times following the war, and in 1940 the properties were acquired by antiquarian Sheldon Fisher, who hoped to preserve them as a record of a community’s commercial life at the turn of the 19th to 20th century. Fisher helped found the Victor Historical Society in part to look after the interests of the Hall, and served as its caretaker until it fell into bankruptcy in 1998.

Since then, and especially thanks to the early generosity of a particular donor, the Victor Historical Society has struggled to protect the approximate 13 acres and the Valentown Hall from the shovels of developers. Now, thanks to that benefactor’s challenge, they have a chance to have their remaining debt forgiven -- but only if they can raise $50K by October 25th, 2012.

Ahead of its Time, or Prototype for the Modern Mall?

While terms like ‘synergy’ weren’t in use at the time, Valentown creator Levi Valentine clearly hoped to create synergy from Valentown’s blend of crucial small businesses, friendly civic space, and then-cutting-edge innovations like underground parking (for horses and wagons, no less). The Hall arranged critical businesses (including a harness shop, cobbler, general store, meat store and bakery) around a central common room served by a commercial kitchen. Second and third floors boasted post-secondary schools for business, music, art and theater, as well as space dedicated to the Valentown Grange. The third floor featured a grand ballroom, which saw regular use through the First World War.

Ironically, Valentown Hall now sits within sight of one of the area’s largest and busiest shopping centers, Eastview Mall, in the midst of a cluster of suburban commercial activity. Valentown Hall can serve as "A time-out to show people what maybe commercial areas were like a hundred years ago," in the words of the Victor Historical Society’s Kathryn White. "A way for us to understand both how far we have come, and other directions we might have gone."

The Victor Historical Society is gratefully accepting donations in the interest of meeting their challenge. Donations can be made at the Victor Historical Society’s website:

Please support this irreplaceable piece of our country's history known as Valentown, go to for more information. Please note, this is an OFFICIAL Valentown press release and is not related to any "ghost hunting" or paranormal media, and in fact... in the interest of preserving a privately owned historical property we discourage any commercialization or dramatization or promotion of interests to develop the historical properties that are outside of and unrelated to the interests of the Victor Historical Society towards the preservation of its historical existence. Thank you for watching, and please come visit us!

Source:LynSys Software Services Author: Eric Scoles
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Tags:Museum, History, Travel, Family, Entertainment, Culture, Landmark, Valentown
Industry:Non-profit, Society
Location:Victor - New York - United States
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