The Warner’s Safe Cure Building

Warner’s Safe Cure 1890 AlmanacWarner’s Safe Bldg EnlargedWarner’s Safe Yeast Trade CardIn 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.


4 thoughts on “The Warner’s Safe Cure Building

  1. This is some info on how the left hand safe bottles came into existence. My great grandfather worked for a glass company in San francisco…PCCGW was their monogram. And he was in charge of mold accurateness. The most common problem with mold making is that the mold maker has to work in reverse and sometimes mirror imaging to create the proper look of the bottle. thus the letters always had to be carved into the clay (for casting the metal mold parts) backwards , not forwards as you would mostl likely create them. thus you get backwards letters in the mold creating mistakes on the finished bottle. The same goes for pictures of – birds- dogs- and of course safes. there for when the left handed mold was built, the mold carver simply didnt reverse his picture of the safes features, and the left handed “SAFE” was created……..Andy Volkerts

  2. Andy,

    Thanks for the information on the mold errors. I think most people now, and maybe even then, took it for granted that molds were made the way they are read and not in reverse. Generally speaking, I think that Warner did pretty good quality control on his bottles, but, luckily for us, a few slipped through. I plan on doing a few more posts of Warner mold errors. Just posted on on the Melbourne “SAEE” Cure bottle.


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