Remembering Char and her murals

Remembering Char and her murals

[Char’s Liquor, 3/4/17 Entrance covered by police monitoring the store as a crime scene. Mural by Mr. Prvrt and Li-Hill on the southside.]

As reported in today’s Democrat and Chronicle, Charlotte Lahr, the owner of Char’s Liquor on South Avenue across from Highland Park, was apparently brutally murdered by a suspect under custody.


Charlotte Lahr. Photo: D & C

According to the article and other news reports, Char, a widow and mother of three fulfilling a dream to be a small business owner, was a kind and beautiful woman whose store was a welcoming beacon in the Highland Park neighborhood. People would often drop by for wine on their way home from work or just to say hi to this vivacious, friendly, and funny lady. As one woman said, Char was just very cool.

Sadly, I hadn’t seen Char in about two years but the shock and loss was keen. I had met and gotten to know Char a few years ago when she had local artists paint murals on the walls of the store.

mural 2

3/4/17 Mural by Mr. Prvrt and Downer on the northside.

original 2

First version of the right wall. from Eyes on the Streets website, 2015. Final version at top. Artwork by Lea Rizzo.

As I recall, Char was approached by community artists led by Mr. Prvrt asking if they could decorate the walls of the drab building she had recently bought and turned into Char’s Liquor. Char readily agreed because she wanted to add some color to the building and, as importantly, she wanted to support the group’s effort to beautify the neighborhood and to give young artists the chance to showcase their work.

On my walks in Highland Park, I watched the progress of the murals, chatting with the artists and talking with Char. Every day, Char offered encouragement and praise as the artists painted and repainted the wall several times as their various conceptions changed.

mural 1

Marina Vesty, like other customers, came by to offer condolences. Many left notes and balloons.

new pic

This morning, 3/5, I spoke with Colin Axel, an RIT graduating PhD student who lives next to the store. Seeing and chatting regularly with Char, Riley says he and his girlfriend are heartbroken. Yesterday about 30 people gathered to pay their respects, leaving candles and cards.

Char will be greatly missed by all who knew her. But the murals will live on as testament to her warm and generous soul.

UPDATE: see Charlotte Lahr (1970 – 2017)

Charlotte Lahr (1970 – 2017)


A garden for peaceful contemplation on the corner of South and Elmwood.

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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