Last year, The Landmark Society was approached by the County of Monroe to help find a steward for one of our region’s most unique historic structures, Warner Castle. Located in Highland Park, Warner Castle was built in 1854 by Horatio Gates Warner as a residence. The design was influenced by an actual castle that Warner visited on a trip to Scotland. The property remained in private hands until purchased by the city of Rochester in 1951, and is currently operated and managed by the County of Monroe. Since 1964, Warner Castle has been home to the Rochester Civic Garden Center, but earlier this year the Civic Garden Center made the difficult decision to dissolve, leaving Warner Castle with no active use.
As discussions with the County continued, the Landmark Society was asked to consider relocating our headquarters to Warner Castle. The Landmark Society staff and board of trustees evaluated all aspects of a relocation, including operational and fiscal impacts. After considerable thought and negotiation, we are pleased to announce our unique leasing partnership with the County of Monroe that will preserve this iconic building.
* * Check out this 1-page fact sheet on Warner Castle and our move * *
Warner Castle will become the Landmark Society’s fifth headquarters since our founding in 1937; we have a track record of rehabilitating and relocating to structures in need. Saving our current home, the Hoyt-Potter House, from demolition almost thirty years ago was a remarkable preservation success story. Leaving our partners, neighbors, and friends in Rochester’s Corn Hill neighborhood will be difficult, but we will take care in seeking the next responsible steward who will be committed to Hoyt-Potter’s continued preservation.
Our organization’s move will spur much needed investment for Warner Castle’s renovation. The County of Monroe is committing financial resources to restore and maintain the building’s exterior and overall mechanical systems, while interior plaster repair and painting, floor finishes, and lighting will be funded by the Landmark Society. We intend to rehabilitate the existing loggia (a covered porch on the rear of the building) by removing inappropriate materials and applying a design that improves functionality of the space and offers a greater connectivity between the building and the surrounding historic landscape.
Our organization’s financial investment in this project, along with services like public tours and preservation workshops, will offset the expense of rent. The move will not only assist in safeguarding a historic structure, but will also save our organization significant operating expenses.
To complete the Landmark Society’s 80th Anniversary fundraising campaign, we seek your help in supporting our responsibility for the cost of interior finishes and the loggia restoration, which combined will cost an estimated $200,000. We are grateful to the Rochester Area Community Foundation for a recent grant awarded for this purpose, kicking off the fund raising efforts. I can think of no better way to cap our 80th Anniversary than to be an active partner in coalescing support for a project such as this. In the weeks to come, we will be mailing our annual fund requests, and we humbly ask for your generous contributions. You can also give online HERE. Thank you!