In 1883, Warner embarked on the construction of a new manufacturing facility befitting the patent medicine empire that he was creating. The details of the new Romanesque building on St. Paul Street were published by the Rochester Union and Advertiser and recounted by Atwater. Its eight stories enclosed some four acres of floor space with brick arches and iron joists to support the floors. The exterior featured cast iron fronts emblazened with “W”‘s and large panels of plate glass. The interior details included hard maple floors, two hydraulic elevators and electric lighting throughout. The new building was to cost $250,000 (about $5.3 Million today) and was to be completed in nine months. It was the tallest building in Rochester. The construction was not without controversy, but it was ultimately completed and opened on Warner’s forty-second birthday in January, 1884.
The first floor housed the Warner business office, including Mr. Warner’s panelled office and the shipping department. The second floor was home to the advertising and publishing departments managed by H. L. Ensign. The third floor was occupied by the mailing department, which distributed millions of pieces of promotional material each year. On the fourth floor was the bottling works and on the fifth, the laboratory. The remaining floors were used for storage. It was estimated that it was possible to manufacture 7,000 gallons of medicine daily. That quantity would fill 56,000 bottles, which would retail for $70,000.
Thereafter, the building graced much of Warner’s advertising, including his almanacs and tradecards. It became a symbol of the Safe Cure empire. The quality of its construction no doubt accounts for its continued existence as an architectural feature of downtown Rochester. When I visited Rochester in 2001, Jack Stecher kindly guided me on a visit to the building. It was a pilgrimage of sorts to the historic heart of Warner’s universe.