Great Homes of Rochester

The Patrick Barry house
The Harris house

The Patrick Barry House

The booming frontier city of Rochester wasn’t even a decade old when the Erie Canal helped bring two hard working immigrants named George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry. They discovered a climate perfect for starting what would become the largest tree and plant nursery in North America. As that nursery grew, both men built stately homes that served as signposts of their success. Patrick Barry’s would also house a family that would grow to 10 children. When the last of those died in 1951, the newest generation of Barrys donated Patrick’s home to the University of Rochester. The university took the greatest care and hired the most gifted of restoration experts to bring the century old structure back to life. Its 13 foot ceilings and 11 foot doors now gleam next to ornate woodwork and period furniture. The home has since served as the residence of several U of R provosts and presidents.


The Harris House

Like Ellwanger and Barry, Edward Harris brought little other than a quick intelligence and a love of hard work with him to Rochester. He arrived as a dirt farmer but after a year of night school, he passed the bar and opened his own practice. It would become one of the signature law firms in upstate New York. By 1865, Harris built an elegant Italian villa on several acres of farmland that lay well to the east of a growing Rochester. Later, other equally regal mansions would be built on the road that passed by Harris’ front door, East Avenue. Harris sold the home in 1892 when he mistakenly thought his wife wanted something newer, more modern. Subsequent owners included the wife and daughter of Western Union co-founder Don Alonzo Watson, socialite and rose scholar Harriet Hollister Spencer, and current Harris-Beach partner Beth Wilkens. Now, a new generation has moved in. Mark and Kathy Cleary bring with them at least one important link to the generations previous: a determination to use their new home as a home and not a museum.

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