City Hall Brownstone Restoration Project

City Hall's Historical Significance

Dedicated in 1885 and listed on the National Historic Register since 1972, Rochester City Hall is a significant cultural and historic landmark:

  • Served as Rochester’s first federal building.
  • Is one of only three remaining 19th century government buildings in Rochester and one of the only examples of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture.
  • Design is attributable to Harvey Ellis, a renowned American architect
  • In 1976, the City of Rochester acquired the former federal building for its new city hall. Handler, Grosso Durfee & Associates designed the renovation and expansion; the total cost of the rehabilitation was $5,300,000. 
  • Today, City Hall serves 40,000 visitors as well as hundreds of marriages, events, and City functions annually.

Project Background

The City of Rochester conducted a series of assessment and investigation activities over the past decade, culminating in the recommendation of a comprehensive restoration to the original (1885) building façade. This project incorporates extensive repair/replacement (in-kind) of brownstone masonry as well as environmentally sound exterior cleaning to stop interior water damage and prevent delamination of the exterior masonry. Without repair, the exterior stone deterioration would cause substantial damage impacting this historic building’s stability, safety and sustainability.

Funding and Current Work

In 2007, the City retained historic preservation firm Mesick, Cohen Wilson Baker Architects to complete a comprehensive design of building façade’s repair, rehabilitation and replacement. Construction of the project was awarded to Lari Construction, Inc. of Syracuse ($6.8M) in August 2008. The brownstone repair and replacement work will be conducted over a two-year period and includes:

  • A focus on stone removal and measurement for replacement in designated preservation priority areas, which will be completed by hand. Areas showing the greatest deterioration risk will require full stone replacement. 
  • Masonry repair and restoration methods involve significant replacement and Dutchman repairs using in-kind sandstone material, along with surface re-tooling, partial and comprehensive re-pointing and potentially, a minimal amount of composite repair at lower areas. 
  • Other work incorporates repointing of the original mortar joints, repairs of the dormers and chimney areas and logetta stabilization.
  • The work underway will ensure that the building’s masonry will not need additional major restoration for up to a century.
  • The project is a recipient of a $350,000 Environmental Protection Fund (Historic Preservation category) grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
  • The project should be substantially completed by December 2010. 

Active Construction Photos

Check out pictures from the stone restoration!


Contact City project manager, Mr. Vincenzo Giordano, a Senior Architect in the Bureau of Architecture and Engineering, at (585) 428-7357, or email him.