HIghland Park’s Children’s Pavilion

Not everyone who visits Rochester during the Lilac Festival may be aware that Highland Park has a world-class arboretum designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The broad south-facing slope from the heights to Highland Avenue, east of South Avenue, west of Goodman Street, south of a residential neighborhood and south to Highland Avenue and Elmwood Avenue, is the historic 1890s section designed by Olmsted, Sr. & Sons and constructed by the City of Rochester Parks Commission. Few changes have been made since then and this area of Highland Park is registered as a National Historic Landmark and is a part of the City’s Mt. Hope-Highland Preservation District.

The Pavilion was constructed during 1890, at a cost of $7,000 with funds donated by George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry, who had also donated 20 acres to form Highland Park. The Pavilion was round, with three levels, each one smaller than the one below. It had a central staircase and was 62’ in diameter at the base and 46’ in height.

The Pavilion was dedicated in 1891 and was the showcase at the park for 72 years before being torn down due to disrepair in 1963. The Highland Park Conservancy, a non-profit organization committed to preserving the park’s heritage, has taken on its reconstruction as a special project in addition to their other programs to promote and maintain this local treasure.

Larry Staub appreciates the public’s involvement in the county parks, especially the active groups at Highland Park, Seneca Park Zoo and Ontario Beach. Speaking of rebuilding the Children’s Pavilion, he said the Conservancy “is a great group that has high odds of success” – even though the price tag is steep and they’re aiming to get all the funds from community support.

Back in 2001, the Southeast Area Coalition, Inc. formed the Committee to Rebuild the Children’s Pavilion in Highland Park and worked with a local architectural firm to develop a feasibility study of the reconstruction of the Children’s Pavilion in Highland Park. The Committee to Rebuild the Children’s Pavilion has since become part of the Highland Park Conservancy, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization. Rebuilding the pavilion is a special project which technically is a restoration that includes replacing a missing historic feature of Highland Park.

Replacement does allows for slight changes to the original design, such as an elevator for accessibility, staircases that meet current codes, and using building materials that meet current re and building codes. e new structure will match the original in size and have a wooden frame, stairs and second and third level doors. The railing and balusters will be aluminum nished with a coating to resemble stained wood, to withstand Rochester weather.

The cost is estimated at $3 million plus an endowment fund to insure maintenance for generations to come. Because Highland Park is listed on the National Register, all plans must be reviewed the New York State Historic Preservation Once for compliance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act. To contribute to this outstanding project, contact: Go to Highland Park Conservancy on Facebook to join them, find events, volunteer or donate to support their work.