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My Geneva Is … Then and Now

July 8th, 2022

By Becky Chapin, Archivist

We’ve now completed two My Geneva Is… exhibits in a series we started planning in 2019. This year’s theme “Then and Now,” though general in subject, will help bolster our photograph collection further. For more information on the exhibit, head on over to this page.

I’ve already written a Finger Lakes Times article on the changes at the former Methodist Church building on Main and Seneca Streets, so I thought I’d write about something different for this month’s blog article.

Colored postcard with two restaurants

Don Woodworth cross promoted his restaurants on a postcard seen here, Texaco Grille above and Woodworth’s below.

Around 1933, a lot on Lake Street was purchased by Donald Woodworth, who also owned Woodworth’s Restaurant, for a diner. Constructed by the Bixler Manufacturing Co., the building was shipped in multiple pieces from its headquarters in Ohio and assembled on site. The barrel-shaped roof featured distinctive overhangs on the ends.

This would become the Texaco Grille and operate as part of the Texaco Filling Station to its immediate right. Woodworth had a vision of operating multiple restaurants and would own this restaurant until 1945 when he sold his shares to business partner F. Wesley Tuxill (also selling Woodworth’s to Ted Voigt). Woodworth wanted some time away from the business world but would return soon after, creating the Don-Wesley, Inc. company with Tuxill. Together they also owned the Castle Dairy Bar and Tuxill’s refreshment stand on the lakefront. Mr. Tuxill operated the diner until 1954 when Woodworth bought out Tuxill’s interest.

Exterior photograph of a one story restraunt

The exterior of Howell’s diner in 1956, before renovations.

That same year, Harry Howell purchased the property from Don-Wesley, Inc. and renamed the restaurant Howell’s Diner, hosting a grand opening in 1955. He modernized the exterior with sheet aluminum in the early 1960s but soon after the diner suffered a fire and closed in 1967-68. Howell’s Restaurant would reopen on Geneva-Waterloo Road around 1970.

The building was vacant until it was purchased in 1980 by Goebert Automobile Supply who restored the building and opened it as a NAPA dealership.

Colored photograph of a diner at Christmas time

Patti’s Lakeview Diner during Christmastime in 1997.

In 1996, Patti Guererri purchased the building and renovated it, exposing its original 1930s exterior. Inside, Guererri refurbished the stools from Smaldone’s Variety Shop (closed in 1995), used the green booths from the former Raymond Hotel, and installed a stainless steel hood from the old Woolworths at the Town and Country Plaza (closed 1993). In 2004, the diner was moved (minus the kitchen) from Lake Street to the former transfer station on Doran Avenue as part of downtown revitalization plans.

Colored photograph of a multi-story hotel

The former site of the Texaco Grill, now the Hampton Inn parking lot.

In 2005, the Hampton Inn was built on the site as part of those plans. Reports from the Finger Lakes Times in 2019 said that Gerry Collins purchased the building from where it still sat on Doran Ave. He had plans to move it to his house and restore the diner, but I couldn’t find anything further.

Remember that every photo tells a story, it’s important to document what Geneva looks like today to tell the stories of tomorrow.

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