1879 was a good year for H. H. Warner. It saw the launch of his patent medicine business as well as the completion of a stately house on Rochester’s posh East Avenue. According to Edward Atwater in his Perfect Pitch, the home did not want for opulence:
During its fifty years it had not been surpassed for flamboyance. The ebony and white holly woodwork, parquet floors, etched glass windows, fabulous staircase of carved black walnut, and the elevator – the first private elevator in Rochester – had once been the talk of the town.
Atwater at 189-190. The home was built by J. R. Thomas on the southwest corner of East and Goodman Avenues. The home was, no doubt, the scene of lavish social events as Warner’s medicine business prospered during the 1880’s and early 1890’s.
When Warner’s fortunes turned, he was forced to sell the home along with his other assests to satisfy his creditors. The home was purchased by Leon Grisheim in 1893 and his daughter resided there until is demolition. Despite its architectural uniqueness and appointments, the home ultimately met the wrecking ball in 1929. The home was levelled to make room for a parking lot. The site was donated to the Rochester Museum and Science Center in 1941.
The above photographs show the home in two distinct periods of its existence. The first, from the collection of the Rochester Public Library Local History Division was likely taken shortly after the completion of the home in 1879. The second shows the home in a considerable state of deterioration surrounded by overgrown trees and folliage and is from the Albert R. Stone Negative Collection of the Rochester Museum & Science Center. A sign in front of the home reads “Seneca Club Property”. I am not certain about the date that the second photograph, but given the growth of vegetation around the home, one would suspect it was taken in the early part of the 20th Century. Although I had seen the first photograph before, I had not seen the second until it was brought to my attention by Kevin Taft. Thanks Kevin!
Although the home survived its original owner by six years, its deterioration is symbolic of Warner’s rise and fall.