Union Hill Since 1970

The hamlet of Union Hill straddles the county line, and therefore some residents live in the town of Webster, Monroe County, and others in the town of Ontario, Wayne County.

The generally recognized boundaries of the hamlet are the railroad tracks to the north, the meeting of Halesworth Lane and County Line Road to the south, the former Union Hill Church at 1864 Ridge Road to the west, and the meeting of Vande Road and Ridge Road to the east.

The portion of the hamlet within Wayne County has its own zip code, 14563. Residents can opt for home delivery from the Ontario post office or rent a box at the Union Hill post office at 82 Ridge Road.     

A major change for the residents of Union Hill in the past fifty years was the construction of the Route 104 highway through the hamlet. In the late 1970s, construction of the Irondequoit-Wayne County expressway brought the highway to the Monroe-Wayne County line at Union Hill, followed by the expansion of the highway from a two-lane road to a four-lane divided highway from Union Hill to Williamson in Wayne County.

The sharp incline of the ridge prevents County Line Road from crossing Ridge Road, and access to the center of the hamlet from the north has been via a junction road which climbs the hill in a more gradual ascent. For a period in the 1900s, a wooden staircase provided pedestrian access up the ridge. Firefighters from the north would drive to the base of the hill and run up the stairs to the firehouse on Ridge Road.

Howard Van R. Palmer, a native of Union Hill, passed away on Oct. 19, 1975, at the age of 92. He had been a long-time member of the Webster Planning Board and was the Webster town historian and a charter member and past vice-president of the Webster Historical Society.

On May 17, 1970, the congregation of the Union Hill Methodist Church celebrated fifty years in their church building, which had been purchased from the Episcopal Church in 1920. On April 9, 1978, the congregation dedicated their new parsonage, adjacent to the church.

In 2013, the Union Hill Methodist Church merged with the West Webster United Methodist Church to form the New Life United Methodist Church.  The consolidation was attributed to “small, aging congregations.” For a few years, the Sunday service was then held part of the year at the West Webster church and the remaining months at the Union Hill church. In 2018, the church building at 1864 Ridge Road, was sold, and the sale of the parsonage followed in 2020.

On April 19, 1970, the Union Hill Fire Department dedicated its newly remodeled firehouse.

Joan O’Gorman, long-time volunteer for the Union Hill Fire Department, was honored as the 21st inductee of the Women’s Hall of Fame of Webster, in 1995.

John Schreiber, who began his fire-fighting career with the Union Hill Fire Department, was sworn in as Chief of the Rochester Fire Department on January 1, 2014. He retired from the RFD in 2018 after 30 years with the department. 

On the evening of Sunday, June 7, 2015, a fire started at the building located on the northwest corner of Route 104 and County Line Road. High winds caused the fire to spread to the entire building, resulting in a total loss. While fighting the fire, a “mayday alert” was issued by the Union Hill Fire Department, when a firefighter was separated from his unit, but the man was located. The owner of the business, Steven Palis, was inside the building when the fire started, but was not injured. Mr. Palis had a new building constructed on the site and it is now home to the Farmhouse Fabulous furniture store and Steve’s Custom Canvas and Upholstery. The original building was built in the mid-1800s and was the canning factory of the Wooster Fruit Farms.

2015 Steve Palis fire

The Union Hill Fire Department and Volunteer Ambulance Corps ceased operations in 2020, after 76 years of service to the towns of Webster and Ontario.

The historic building at 1891 Ridge Road continued to house diverse commercial ventures during the past fifty years. These included a tropical fish store, an art framer, a country store, “The Grill at Union Hill,” and since 2012, “Mama Lor’s Café.” In 2016, the building was one of eight properties recognized for historic preservation by the Webster Museum.  

The railroad tracks that run through Union Hill are part of the 33-mile stretch of tracks that remain from the “Hojack” line that originally ran from Oswego to Niagara Falls. The Sodus-based Ontario Midland Railroad Corporation operates freight trains in Monroe and Wayne Counties between Wolcott and Phillips Road in Webster.

On the northwest corner of Route 104 and County Line Road in Ontario, stands the buildings of the Crown Electric Company. Bruce Hanlon moved his business here in 1978 from its prior location at the corner of Commercial and Martin Streets in Webster. The main building on the site was built about 1900 by Wooster Farms and was used as a coal and feed business. It later became Union Hill Lumber Company. Upon Bruce Hanlon’s death in 1986, his sons, Matt and Mark took over the business. They built an addition to their building in 1986.

The building on the southeast corner of Route 104 and County Line Road in Ontario, now is the home of Salvatore’s Pizza. The location had been the site of various establishments, including the High Life and Lucky Spurs bars in the 1970s, T.C. Rockers and the Toppers Nite Club in the 1980s, and later the Webster Junction Dance Club and Restaurant, and Mike’s Ice Cream.

71 acres of former farmland near Union Hill Cemetery were donated in 2011 to the Genesee Land Trust to be used as a nature preserve. Given by siblings Laurel Bruns and Gary Braman and their family, the preserve of forest and grassland had been in the family since their great-grandfather started farming there in 1907. The Eva and Harlan Braman Nature Preserve is accessible from Ridge Road.   

By 2015, more than 125 two-story single-family homes had been newly constructed in the Eastwood Estates subdivision off County Line Road, 1/2 mile south of Ridge Road, just south of Union Hill.


  • August Vorndran, email messages to author, January 18, 2023 and February 9, 2023
  • Post Office clerk, Union Hill, NY, interview with author, March 17, 2023
  • “Looking Downhill,” The Wayne County Mail, July 28, 1977
  • Google Maps
  •  “H. Palmer, ex-historian, planning board chairman,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, October 22, 1975
  • “Parsonage dedication today,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, April 9, 1978
  • “Aging congregations lead to merger of West Webster, Union Hill Methodist churches,” The Webster Herald, July 24, 2013
  • “Webster Church Directory,” The Webster Herald, June 8, 2016
  • Real Property Portal, Monroe County, NY
  • Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, April 19, 1971
  • Carol Ritter, “Mystery Diary of Meakers Found in Chili,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle,  September 6, 1995
  • Randy Gorbman, “Rochester’s New Fire Chief & Interim Police Chief Sworn-In.” WXXI News, January 1, 2014
  • Jon Hand, “New Rochester Fire Chief Values Hard Work.” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, January 20, 2014
  • Howard Thompson, “Rochester Fire Chief John Schreiber to Retire After 30 Years,” RochesterFirst, 20 Dec. 2018
  • Wendy Mills, “Massive Fire Destroys Webster Upholstery Business,” Spectrum Local News, June 8, 2015
  • Farm House Fabulous
  • Steve Palis, interview with author, March 13, 2023
  • Union Hill Volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance Corps, Thank You All
  • “Dick’s Tropical Fish,” The Webster Herald, January 21, 1970
  • “The Artful Framer,“ Fairport Herald-Mail, December 11, 1985
  • “Legal Notice,” The Webster Herald, September 26, 1990
  • “The Grill at Union Hill,” The Webster Herald, November 6, 2002
  • “Union Hill landmark reopens,” The Webster Herald, March 21, 2012
  • “Eight properties recognized for historic preservation by Webster Museum,” The Webster Herald, June 6, 2016
  • Ontario Midland Railroad Corp
  • Matt Hanlon, Email message to author, February 16, 2023
  • Justin Murphy, “Land Donation Aims to Preserve Peaceful Spot in Webster,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, August 16, 2013
  • “Town Planning Board Agenda,” The Webster Herald, January 14, 2015