Romantic Inn / B&B & Couples Getaway in Rochester

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Flower City: The University Connection

Re-posted 4/29/23 by the Ellwanger Estate B&B

Posted on  by akadri

After the flour boom of the early and mid-19th century died down in Rochester, the city transitioned from being known as the Flour City to worldwide acclaim as the Flower City. This was largely due to horticulturists George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry’s nursery business, which grew from five to over 500 acres between 1840 and 1860, and became the world’s largest nursery in 1888.

Today, much of this land is part of Highland Park, as well as University property, including Goler House, College Town, and various offices. The property also includes the respective residences of the University Provost and President—sites that University Horticulture and Grounds Manager John McIntyre says are utilized for entertaining guests, students, and staff, and are open for public tours. However, what is the significance of this property and its connection to the University, and how has Ellwanger and Barry’s work continued to impact the evolution of the city and the University?

Ellwanger and Barry: plant partners

Under the Beech Tree, Patrick Barry House (Photo courtesy in John McIntyre)

George Ellwanger was born on a small farm in Germany to a vineyardist whose occupation was jeopardized by the Napoleonic wars, harsh weather, and economic crises. In 1835, after having apprenticed for a leading nurseryman and florist in Stuttgart, Ellwanger set sail for America to seek work. On his way to Ohio through the Erie Canal, he stopped at Rochester to unload freight and was “impressed” by the “then-infant city on the Genesee…for its luxuriant vegetation and its favorable location for a horticultural establishment.” By the spring of 1836, he had bought the nursery portion of the Rochester Seed Store’s business in which he was employed.

Concurrently, Irish immigrant and esteemed horticulture writer and editor Patrick Barry also traveled to America. Arriving in New York in 1836, he gained a foundation in American horticulture at the oldest nursery in the States: the Linnaean Nursery at Flushing, Long Island. In 1840, he headed west, and together, he and Ellwanger saw the potential in the still-growing city. In their 1843 catalogues, they noted that the Rochester climate would help plants adapt to harsh weather, the water channels would make for easy trade, and fresh plantings in the West would safeguard species from diseases in older nurseries.

1840-1888: History of the Ellwanger and Barry Nurseries

To say that the Mount Hope Garden and Nurseries were a success would be an understatement. One of the keys to the business’s success was its relentless expansion—Ellwanger and Barry purchased land almost every year, allowed older plant specimens to mature on older land, and planted new plants on new land. This system allowed them to monitor the progress and quality of each stock, and it established them as both the largest and best-quality nursery in the country.

In addition, the enterprise was one-of-its-kind due to its unparalleled variety in flowers, vines, ornamental shrubs, and most notably, fruit trees. One early visitor called the business “the most complete nurseries on the American continent…in which various species are…so fully and so well represented.” The fruit tree ground alone contained nearly 2000 varieties at that point, with each variety painstakingly-catalogued as per the London Horticultural Society’s method of listing and describing plants.

Ellwanger’s and Barry’s international outlook set them apart. Not only were the products of the nursery sent all over the United States—especially during the post-Civil War era—but they were also exported outside the country. Some reports estimate that the nurseries’ shipments in 1887 were valued at half a million dollars, elevating Rochester to the center of the country and indeed, the world’s horticulture. In addition, Ellwanger and Barry travels to and from Europe helped expand their stock, and a landmark feature of their business was their focus on imports of rare varieties. In their second catalogue, Ellwanger and Barry wrote:

“Our purpose is, and has been since the formation of our establishment, to make, here in WESTERN NEW YORK, a collection of fruits unsurpassed by any in the country, embracing every valuable variety of either native or foreign origin, adapted to our soil and climate.”

Ironically, much of Ellwanger and Barry’s sales contributed to the growth of other nurseries in America and worldwide. This, in addition to the shifting interest from fruits and rare plants to flower and ornamental trees, resulted in a decline in orders. By the 1880’s, seedsmen such as James Vick, Hiram Sibley, and Joseph Harris had introduced mail-orders for customers to order seeds through, much to the chagrin of the nurserymen. Although this expanded Rochester’s reputation as the Flower City, times were a-changing, and Ellwanger and Barry’s business failed to survive past the 80’s.

Azalea Mix, Patrick Barry House (Photo courtesy of John McIntyre)

Present-day: the University connection

For University Horticulture and Grounds Manager John McIntyre, Ellwanger and Barry’s work inadvertently ended up influencing his career choices. He isn’t from Rochester, but he learned about the Ellwanger and Barry Nursery during his time at West Virginia University. He says he “appreciates what Rochester meant to the industry that [he] works in.”

McIntyre admits that the Flower City that Ellwanger and Barry knew is gone. “Land became too valuable—it’s more valuable to have homes and industries that are making money, as opposed to a nursery or garden center,” he said. Yet two buildings stand on University property today that were part of this original legacy. The University’s Patrick Barry House, which currently houses the Provost, was built by designs from English architect Gervase Wheeler and was the home of Patrick Barry until his death in 1890. Additionally, 668 Mt. Hope Avenue currently occupied by University of Rochester Press, was built in 1854 as the office building of the Ellwanger & Barry Nursery.

Ellwanger and Barry’s attempts to beautify Rochester and establish parks and green spaces makes it the city that it is today. Their investment in the development of the Flower City’s horticulture, as well as their contributions to the establishment of public transport, continue to have an enduring impact.

Just as what the duo once created has evolved over the years, so have the needs of the property. For the Horticulture and Grounds team, maintaining the horticultural legacy does not simply mean preserving the nurseries; it also means “doing the best we can, just like Ellwanger and Barry.” Gone are the days of encouraging foreign species; McIntyre notes that many of the plants introduced by Ellwanger and Barry are “now considered invasive in some places.” While the team does make it a goal to plant native plants, they do not opt for invasive species.

Although there are scant remnants of the project that propelled Rochester to international fame, the nursery industry is still integral to the city. McIntyre comments that there are a “lot of really good nurseries and seed suppliers in the area.” Having traveled to various other universities across the mid-Atlantic, he knows that many institutions don’t have the option of buying local. The University of Rochester, on the other hand, “buys local plant material about 99% of the time.” This unique reciprocal relationship speaks to the enduring value for flowers and trees in the area, and illuminates both the University’s role in keeping the Flower City image alive, and Ellwanger and Barry’s long-lasting impact on the city’s identity and industries.

Groups interested in doing walking tours of the Ellwanger and Barry property can contact John McIntyre at

Written by Syeda Mahnoor Raza (’24)

Top Photo: Perennial Gardens, Patrick Barry House (Courtesy of John McIntyre)

Why 2023 Is The Year to Visit Rochester

By Visit Rochester Staff 

If Rochester isn’t on your list of upcoming travel destinations, it’s time to make some room on your itinerary. (We are listed among the best places to travel in 2023 by INSIDER, after all!)

Rochester, and all the people, places and events that make it great, is ready for your visit in 2023. We consider ourselves: a food-lover’s paradise, offering tastes of every flavor throughout the city; the king of festivals; a hub of historical sites and destinations; and the getaway spot you didn’t know you needed.

And while the city has already been buzzworthy for major events like the upcoming 2024 total solar eclipse, Rochester will only get more love in the new year. Many annual events will be returning in 2023, and there are also new attractions and restaurants joining the ranks of Rochester’s list of places to go.


  • 2023 PGA Championship. In May 2023, Rochester’s prestigious Oak Hill Country Club will play host to the 2023 PGA Championship, marking the fourth time the PGA’s premier event will be held in Rochester at Oak Hill. The greatest golfers will descend on Rochester May 18-21, 2023. More info:
  • Opening of Expansion at The Strong Museum of Play. The top children’s museum in the country happens to find its home in Rochester, NY. The Strong National Museum of Play is the only museum in the world dedicated to the exploration and discovery of play. And beginning in 2023, The Strong will have even more to offer visitors with the completion of a transformative expansion. The heart of the all-new Neighborhood of Play will be The Strong’s 90,000-square-foot expansion which will house state-of-the-art guest amenities and a 24,000-square-foot interactive gallery.
  • Neighborhood of Play. In the shadow of The Strong Museum, a new neighborhood, the Neighborhood of Play, has been built up in the footprint of the former Inner Loop. The new neighborhood offerings include housing, commercial space, planned retail – including a new brewery, a gaming themed restaurant, new hotel and more. Also just steps away from The Strong, visitors will find the newly opened Tasting Room for Strangebird Brewing, which was recently named the 2022 Brewery of the Year in New York State Craft Beer Competition.
  • Black Button Distilling Expansion and New Distillery. Rochester’s Black Button Distilling was the first distillery to open in the area since prohibition, when it first opened in 2012. Now ten years in business, Black Button recently announced plans to expand its production space and tasting room to University Avenue in Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts. The new facility, which will renovate a historic building (built before World War I) into a 28,000 sq. foot distillery. Black Button will move to its new location in summer 2023. 
  • Expansion of Rohrbach Brewing on Railroad Street. As Black Button Distilling prepares to move from its current home near Rochester’s Public Market to its new space, the move presents an opportunity for Black Button’s current neighbor, Rohrbach Brewing Company to expand its existing space. Rohrbach is Rochester’s first craft brewery, serving craft brews since its opening in 1991. The expansion will allow for more production space for the pioneer in the Rochester’s growing beer scene, as well as event space and more seating for guests in its Railroad Street Beer Hall, adjacent to the Rochester Public Market – one of the oldest and largest markets in the country.
  • Development alongside the Erie Canal in Fairport NY + Empire State Trail. The Empire State Trail connects New York State, from Buffalo to NYC. In the Rochester area, the trail is comprised of the Erie Canalway Trail. The Rochester area is home to several canal side communities, including the picturesque village of Fairport. In Fairport, visitors will discover a new entertainment district known as The Cannery, which was once the home of the American Can Co. The 62,000 sq. foot structure was originally constructed in 1908, and today is home to two breweries, a distillery and several different restaurants.  

 What’s not to love!


You have a few days until Valentine’s Day. Don’t be that guy (or girl) who waits until the last minute and then rushes out to buy a half-wilted roses and a box of generic chocolates. Instead,  surprise the love of your life with one of the most romantic gift possible—an Ellwanger Estate Bed & Breakfast getaway in Rochester, NY.

The Ellwanger Estate B&B knows how to celebrate romance! We are the proud recipients of the I Love Inns and American Historic Inns “Top 10 Most Romantic Inns of North America” award, and featured in the Getaway Mavens 32 Great Romantic Hotels in New York State, Travel and Leisure, Rochester Magazine, INNS Magazine, and Design Sponge: Rochester, NY city guide.

With ANY February stay, the mansion will be decked out in red roses galore, with half a dozen in your guest room, and a heart shaped chocolate cake for your 4th course during your gourmet breakfast.

Here’s a thought to share by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

I love you not only for what you are,
but for what I am when I am with you.
I love you not only for what you have made of yourself,
but for what you are making of me.
I love you for the part of me that you bring out.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Rosemary’s Favorite Things 2022

  1. Hands down ~it’s you, my guests. Each of you grace the Ellwanger with your energy and positive vibes. You are a blessing. The evidence is in the warm and welcoming Google and Tripadvisor Reviews, and our returning guests.
  2. Social Responsibilities: Memorial Art Gallery, B&B for Vets, David’s Refuge
  3. Surprize Vacations with Pack Up + Go. A Fun and fabulous treat, especially when you vacation at the Ellwanger.
  4. Four course breakfast. Where Else?!
  5. Jazz Jamming: From April to December, on the first Saturday of each month, our guests are entertained with spectacular live music. Think value added, think gift certificates.
  6. Deb Delights” apple-pear butter on the breakfast table. I went for the beets, but stayed for the apple-pear butter!
  7. Amenities galore: From luxurious Italian cotton linens, makeup remover cloths, house slippers, robes, and full toiletries. Here are my 4 favs:
    • Greenwich Bay Trading Co. shampoo (Rosemary, Cedar & Thyme), conditioner, and hand lotion
    • Ellwanger Laundry Bags, fashioned after the Grandhotel Pupp’s gift bag in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic
    • PranaSleep organic mattresses
    • Pillow menu. In an effort to enhance your sleep, lighten your suitcase, and try out new pillows~ the Ellwanger offers hypoallergenic, down, latex and wool pillows
  8. Ellwanger Garden, owned and operated by the Landmark Society of WNY, is a nature oasis in the middle of the city, a.k.a. Our very own Secret Garden! Think YOGA, Thai Chi, meditation, and Plein Air Painting.
  9. Original artwork from artist all over the world, including my original pieces as well as … “The Ellwanger Coasters”.
  10. Refreshment hour (new 1/2/23) Monday-Thursday 5-6PM


Ellwanger Estate Participates in B&B’s for Vets

The Ellwanger Estate B&B of Rochester, NY recently announced their participation in B&B’s for Vets, a national program offering complimentary overnight stays for veterans and active military. The B&B’s for Vets program, hosted by the Association of Lodging Professionals, is designed to thank our nation’s veterans and active military for their service by providing them with the unique experience of staying at independent lodging properties like Bed and Breakfasts. The B&B’s for Vets program was started by Kathleen Panek, a West Virginia innkeeper, in 2008 and thousands of veterans and active military have been hosted over the years.

Today is the Day to Remember our Veterans…when we as a country formally honor the service and sacrifice of our former and current U.S. military members as well as their families – whose unique support is sacrificial and inspiring. I also want to take this opportunity to recognize and thank our B&B guests who currently serve or have previously served. We are proud to now serve you and honored to have you as part of our Ellwanger B&B family on this day and everyday.

Complimentary overnight stays are available at volunteer host Bed & Breakfast across the USA. Offer details are listed by region on This year filled the day I posted with B&B for Vets! Please visit this website next year for a repeat offering at the Ellwanger Estate B&B.