Marilyn Jimenez, a former Media and Society professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges recently retired at the end of last academic year, and yet her contributions to Geneva are far from over.
Jimenez, who lives on South Main Street has called the City of Geneva her home since 1984 when she first joined the faculty at pair of Colleges located on Seneca Lake.
After being entrenched in the community for that long, Jimenez has seen the community transform during her time living here and now she has the freedom to explore the historic rich place that she has called home for decades.
Since then, Jimenez considered Geneva her true home after coming from New York City upon completing her studies at Barnard College and Columbia University.
Even in retirement, however, Jimenez has found ways to keep herself busy with her latest endeavor: “The Left Bank: A Restoration Project,” a documentary which is a part of her larger vision for the Linden Street Project – something that has gone underway already.
A while ago, Jimenez purchased a postcard that depicted Linden Street nightlife during the 1970s.
On the backside of the card, the name Ann Jimenez was already written and addressed to her.
For her, she felt that this unexpected discovery was a sign.
“I believe in fate and not coincidence,” Jimenez told FingerLakes1.com.
Currently, she’s started working with that same postcard and a technique called project mapping, a process that transforms objects like flat images into a 3D element through spatial augmented reality.
Although the city’s complexion has changed all too little in architecture, she considers the changing of restaurants the “main development” since arriving to Geneva, especially the consistent prevalence of start-up food and beverage businesses popping-up.
Her latest project initially sparked from the ventures of a former student’s independent study, causing her to track the record of this historic building located at the center of current-day downtown Geneva.
“But Linden Street has become a very interesting space,” Jimenez said.
Based on Jimenez’s research, the bank had been independently owned and not a national bank unlike its competitors in the early twentieth century.
Yet, there were several banks of the same name, style, and design throughout the region, all of which imposed a neo-classical aesthetic with Roman pearl-white columns.
Linden Street eventually became “a local intellectual space that you needed to know” while navigating the city, according to Jimenez.
Differing from the rest of the community, Linden Street had a unique feel, “a cul-de-sac but open on both sides, closed in quality” and filled with “eclectic food establishments,” in her own words.
At the same time, the picturesque scenic route with murals painted along white brick wall had not always been that way and considered “a shoddy street” back in the day by Jimenez.
“It wasn’t a place you went through unless you knew of the other place there,” she elaborated.
For years, Jimenez has been collecting original footage from the construction and restoration of Left Bank.
Currently, a working draft has been created but the reediting and post-production elements of this expansive project in retelling the history of Left Bank still requires “a lot of work needs to be done on that,” in her own words.
Despite having some knowledge on the origins of Left Bank, Jimenez is still unearthing the purposes that the bank played in the early days of Geneva.
This ongoing research brings Jimenez back to her academic roots based in urban studies and entangling her visual interests through multimedia and digital technologies.
But beyond Linden Street, Jimenez is interested with tapping into other territories in Geneva where “the crossroads of African American cultures” lie as well.
Eventually once the project is finished in its entirety, the possibilities for screening the completed work are simply endless.
Jimenez plans to grant permission to house a copy of the documentary and project mapping with the Geneva Historical Society.
She is also contemplating a possible collaborative effort with the Smith Center for the Arts once the space reopens following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even now while being away from the Colleges, Jimenez still misses getting her students involved with her latest projects and receiving their collective input.
“It becomes your world. It becomes your family. It’s more than a job,” she explained.
Despite not serving in any formal teaching capacity, she desires to keep her connections alive and expressed her unbending willingness to assist current students and the Media and Society department “in any way that I can.”