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Highland Park Conservancy

Structures in the 1890 Park

With little change in the landscape over the past 100+ years, the major changes to the 1890's park are changes to structures in the park. The Lamberton Conservatory is now the most prominent structure after the demolition of the Children's Pavilion. Mary Starbuck, sister of Alexander Lamberton, who was a member of the Parks Commission and President of the Board (1902-1981), left in her will a bequest of $20,000 for the construction of a greenhouse in Highland Park to be named after her brother. The original design by Lord and Burnham for the conservatory consisted of a center two story glass house flanked on each side by a one story structure. The building was completed in 1911, and enlarged in the 1980's. The main dome was recently restored to the original design. The series of rooms are climate-controlled to allow for various representative plants from global regions. The diverse eco-systems range from desert, to tropical forest, to exotic orchids, to seasonal displays and food producing plants. On October 30, 1911, the structure was dedicated. Alexander Lamberton, President of the Commission, spoke, and Hiram Edgerton, Mayor, accepted the gift for the city. The Park Band also performed. The first public exhibit was a display of chrysanthemums. The exhibits change five times a year.

A refectory at the Pinnacle, an Herbarium Building in the pinetum and propagation greenhouses along Goodman Street extension have all been lost over time.

The 1875 lower gate house of the reservoir, attributed to Emil Kuchling, still stands across from the conservatory. The upper gate house, built in 1902 of yellow white brick, was criticized by John C. Olmsted as being out of character for a park and it intruded into the alley, spoiling the site line from South Avenue to the Children's Pavilion. A recent structure also built by the Rochester Water Bureau sits against the rise to the pinnacle and is out of character with the park.

The last structure to be added to the Highland Park is the Parks Administration Building across the drive and to the west of the Conservatory. This structure was originally constructed by the Church of Latter day Saints (Mormon). It was purchased by the City of Rochester and incorporated into Highland Park.

Information for this history of the 1890 Park and the structures in the 1890 Park was compiled from records in the Rochester Public Library, Local History Section, and files of the Monroe County Department of Parks, by Karen Riggs and Kim Rose, Monroe County Parks Department. Edited and posted in August 2009 by the Highland Park
Conservancy, Inc.