Southeast Quadrant - Lilac Neighborhood
The Lilac Neighbors area residents have ample reasons to tout their lovely southeast corner of Rochester. Its tree-lined, garden-bordered streets are nestled between two historic green spaces - Mt. Hope Cemetery and Frederick Law Olmstead designed Highland Park. Elmwood Avenue marks the neighborhood boundary on the south, Manor Parkway on the north, Joseph Wilson Boulevard at the Genesee River on the west and South Avenue (numbers 825-1585) on the east.
Along with a variety of 20th century single-family homes, including the former residence of famed architect Claude Bragdon, it can also lay claim to a neighborhood castle. Warner Castle on Mount Hope Avenue was built for Horatio Gates Warner in 1854. The 22-room building, designed by A.J. Warner, was modeled after Scotland’s Castle Douglas, a setting in Sir Walter Scott's book titled "Castle Dangerous" (1832). Much of the decorative interior woodwork survives today along with a gatehouse and gardens behind the house that include a sunken garden designed by landscape artist Alling DeForest. Warner Castle now houses the non-profit Rochester Civic Garden Center, the Horticultural Education Center for the Genesee Region of New York state. The Center opened in 1964 and offers Castle tours, a botanical library and classes in all things flowering.
The 200-acre Mt. Hope-Highland Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. This includes the Nursery Office of renowned horticulturists Patrick Barry and George Ellwanger. The stone building, designed by A.J. Davis, is called “the ultimate in romantic office architecture.” Also on Mount Hope Avenue, four decorative "Gothic" homes exemplify a 19th century “planned residential subdivision” built on A.J. Downing’s architectural design for “a Small Bracketed Cottage", with an estimated cost of $512 at the time.
Highland Park on South Avenue offers more than the annual International Lilac Festival. Throughout the warm weather months, The Highland Bowl Amphitheater is a gathering place for a wide variety of community events including a July Big Rib BBQ & Blues Fest, an Annual African-American Festival, as well as concerts featuring musicians from the former Grateful Dead members to Allison Krause.
The Victorian-era Mount Hope Cemetery is a final resting place for some 350,000 people, among them Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. Many visitors tour the grounds which include a rough stone gatehouse with a bell tower, an ornate hexagonal "Moorish" gazebo, and a small Gothic chapel designed by A.J. Warner in 1863.
The Neighborhood is also home to the Mercy Prayer Center on Highland Avenue, the former site of the 19th century Greene and Burleigh Nursery Company, as well as a newly refurbished South Avenue Fire Station, which celebrated a century of service in 2010.
The Lilac Neighborhood Association remains a careful steward of the area’s architectural treasures along with supporting current residents. Formed in 1991, the Association publishes The Lilac Letter newsletter five times a year to publicize neighborhood activities. These include an annual Memorial Day weekend plant sale, a summer ice cream social, garage sales, block parties and garden tours. The Association uses funds from the plant sale to create welcome baskets for newcomers lucky enough to find a home in this historic and people-friendly city neighborhood.
If you would like additional information on this neighborhood, please contact the Southeast Quadrant Neighborhood Service Center:
320 N Goodman St - Suite 209
Rochester, New York 14607