Orphan Building Research Team

Frances R. SchmidtLearning to be historical researchers was a tough and rewarding six-year process. We ventured  back in time with the assistance of our excellent, multiple historical resources and emerged as experts regarding Fred’s hundred and fifteen year history. The experience taught us the importance of validating the facts regarding major historical events, and how they impacted Fred’s tenants and their families from all over the world. As the author, this process provided me with the support necessary to create this legacy of hope for all generations.”

Janet Mazzaroppi  Fran: “OK, so we’ll meet for research at the library (history museum, school, church, barber shop, chocolate shop …) and then get some lunch at this great new place!’  The life of a researcher, especially a researcher for Fran, has been an exciting adventure! Who knew?! “Researcher for a writer’ was not exactly on my retirement bucket list, but I couldn’t resist Fran’s enthusiastic sales pitch. “It will be fun!’

At the very beginning, it was Fran’s passion for this project that drew me in. And once I was in, it was that passion, the thrill of discovery, and the sheer fun of working with Fran and Pat that kept me unquestionably involved. 

Listening to Fran tell the stories of her characters as they developed was like learning about the lives of her family and friends. She mourned their losses and cheered their successes. She lovingly created more than a century of Fred’s history, the history of the people who helped build this region and make it their home.”

Researcher for a writer” has been a dream job!  Fran, you were right, it has been great fun!

Patricia Smyton  “Over 10 years ago, as we ended a meeting about a project for students and alumni, I smiled to myself as Fran told me about a connection that she felt to a Niagara Street building that she passed each day on her way to work.

A year or so later, she stated that she felt compelled to tell a story about this abandoned apartment building and asked if I would be interested in doing research for the book. Fortunately, I said ‘Sure! It will be great to continue to collaborate with you.’

Working with Fran at D’Youville College for several years was a pleasure. When she invited Janet to join us to form the Orphan Building Research Team, our experiences became an adventure filled with learning, laughter and food.

As a team, we found that our skills complemented each other’s. Fran the writer and leader, Janet the new expert researcher, and I the people connector and follower of Fran’s leads, have had an enriching journey.  Janet and I would listen to Fran, and in the middle of her talk, we would look at each other and say, “She’s talking about a CHARACTER in the BOOK, not one of her friends or relatives.” These people came alive for us through her storytelling.  We continually wonder at Fran’s uncanny knack for meeting people who have had real life experiences with FRED.”

“What’s our next project, Fran?!”