Romantic Inn / B&B & Couples Getaway in Rochester

Kiss & Tell

Meliora Weekend 2013 with Robert Gates as Keynote Speaker

It’s a great day here at the Ellwanger! Carrie has returned to help us out with Meliora Weekend!  It just so happens to be this weekend from Thursday, October 10 to Sunday, October 13. There will be multiple events going on all weekend to include exhibits at the Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester Reunion Dinners, Concerts, and Sport Events. The keynote address is by Robert Gates. Make reservations now so you don’t miss a minute of it!

Hats off to Fathers

If everybody could have a Father like mine!!  This is what he had  to say…

Crazy Choice Becomes a Dream

by George F. Janofsky

I thought my daughter was crazy.

It wouldn’t be the first time. The first time was when she went motorcycling with her boyfriend without a helmet. Then volunteering at a hospital and coming home late and then studying to all hours in the morning. Then joining the Air National Guard as a teenager.

After graduating from D’Youville College with a degree in nursing, Rosemary was accepted at Meharry Medical College as the only white female in its midwifery program. On visiting her in Nashville, in a very tough neighborhood, she told me to shut and lock the car door as she went shopping, and when she returned she only said, “They all know me here.”

Or I could tell you about the time she volunteered to go to the Gulf War as a flight nurse—as she said, to triage and pick up wounded on the battlefield.

But when she bought a decrepit 33-room mansion in Rochester, I was sure that my daughter had lost it.

Let me give you some background. While she was in Nashville she bought a small home in Franklin, Tennessee.  She repaired it and put it on the National Historic Register. I don’t mean to make it sound easy, and those of you in this field know it can be difficult. Now after seven years, she moved to Rochester to work at Rochester General Hospital. She asked my advice on a home adjacent to the Erie Canal she wished to buy. There was a red tag on the furnace (meaning it was unsafe to use). It needed a new roof and featured a watermark on the basement wall due to a past flood, rotting wood on the porch and a greenhouse made mostly of broken glass lying all around. I was able to talk her out of this home—but, the future was just around the corner.

She did find a very nice home in the Brighton area of Rochester, but it too needed a lot of work. Once she had made it into a showpiece (it was on the Rochester Tour of Homes), Rosemary was ready to move on and asked me to look at a home she was interested buying.

She excitedly told me about the wonderful home she had been eyeing for years. As we drove into the gravel driveway, I was greeted by a carriage house, as she called it, but in reality it was a dilapidated barn with broken windows, rotted wood, a burned out roof, paint peeling or gone, and large barn doors which looked like they couldn’t even be opened.

Then we turned right, to view the main monstrosity–a huge stucco building with gutters falling down, eaves with holes in them, shingles off the roof, a tree which had fallen on the huge porch, and paint peeling and gone. I was sure the inside must be horrible.

Rosemary said, “Dad, just wait until you see the beautiful inside.”

As we went through what is a 33-room mansion, all I saw was work, dollars and more work. Two furnaces and one boiler needed to be replaced, the electrical wiring was unsafe, fixtures needed replacing, woodwork and walls needed repairs, rugs needed to be removed, the doors didn’t close properly—and that was only the beginning. Nobody in their right mind would touch this dump.

When she told me she was buying this,  I gasped in disbelief. But she is my daughter and she had a dream, and it is not for me to destroy a dream since I love her so much–even if she is a little crazy.

She bought it.

Remember the old story of how do you eat an elephant? Bite by bite. Well, this was a dirty, filthy and sick old elephant of a house. New furnaces came first. Then wiring. Then a complete new roof on the home and carriage house. Money and more money. It is hard to tell just what came next. Painting and plastering, replacing the huge porch, working on the trees, lawn, sidewalk, furnace, plumbing, light fixtures… you get the idea. I didn’t even mention the greenhouse and the carriage house, which would take another page. She had guts to buy the heap–maybe not brains–but guts.

After about two years of work, Rosemary found out that the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra selects a show house as a fundraiser every two years. Gutsy lady that she is, she applied and (hallelujah and amen) her home was selected. She moved out for three months as interior decorators came in and transformed the sick elephant of a house into a beautiful swan.

The celebration and showing of the mansion started with a dinner at the University of Rochester with well deserved accolades for all who worked on the mansion. After dinner, all proceeded to the now beautiful swan. Over 100 people were greeted with a large tent, with a bar and a string quartet playing while seated on the large porch.

In a highlight of the evening, the conductor of the Philharmonic played the built-in organ on the landing of the home’s beautiful staircase. The organ is an 1878 Hooks and Hasting pipe organ, only one of seven in existence.

That was last year. Now Rosemary runs the mansion as a bed and breakfast called the Ellwanger Estate, after one of the first people to own the mansion. The carriage house is fixed up and looks like a child of the mansion. Around the property are some of the works of Fletcher Steele; a beautiful wall and an exquisite staircase.

So you see this story does have a good ending. My daughter, Rosemary Janofsky, inherited her good looks, intelligence and forward thinking from her mother, and the craziness from me.

* * *

The Ellwanger Estate is located at 625 Mt Hope Ave., Rochester. Information is available online at

At long last the King has arrived

Not Elvis, Larry, Stephen, or Tut.  But Prana in the way of a king size mattress. It’s been four years in the making, with many customer requests, research, and creative financing-the King arrives tomorrow.  Destination?  The Woodland Suites of course. The grandest room of them all. So the queen must step aside.  But no worries, she will have the newly decorated, ultra lavish Garden Room.  But that is another story, and will follow shortly. For now, sweet dreams.

Ellwanger Luxury just notched up

My long awaited Sferra linens have just arrived!  Luxury just notched up.  Now the rest of the story…

SFERRA – As the turn of the century approached, Gennaro Sferra left Italy to visit the U.S., in hope of attracting a market for his intricate Venetian lace cuffs and collars.  He found his ideal clientele in the grand seaside resorts that once dotted the East Coast from Maine to Palm Beach, and he traveled regularly to sell his goods.  In 1905, he opened Factory 5007 San Severo, located in the shadow of the Rialto Bridge in Venice. And in 1912, Gennaro moved his company and his family to a shop on Fifth Avenue in New York. A generation later, Gennaro?s two sons, Enrico and Albert, expanded their father’s collection to include the most luxurious European linens of the day from renowned double damask from Ireland to Alenton laces from France to beautiful embroideries from Belgium and Switzerland.

SFERRA changed hands in 1977. With keen business savvy, Paul Hooker purchased the company from the Sferra family. Under Paul’s passionate stewardship and with the aid of great advancements in design and production technologies, SFERRA has experienced explosive growth in recent decades as global markets have emerged, and has secured its rightful position as a leader in the luxury linens industry. The secret of SFERRA’s enduring reputation is consistently prominent today only the finest materials are used in anything that carries the SFERRA name.

Rochester’s First Christmas Tree


In 1840 Rochesterians witnessed a new custom to celebrate Christmas, when a group of recent German immigrants decorated their small church with an evergreen tree according to their old- world tradition. The church was the Zion Lutheran Church at Grove and Stillson Streets, one of the parent churches of Incarnate Word Lutheran Church.

All Rochesterians – there were 18,000 to 20,000 inhabitants at the time – were invited to come and see the tree on December 25th, and many came. The church was packed inside and people were standing in line outside. The tree was a 10 to 12-foot-high spruce that was cut in the woods outside the city. It was ‘brilliantly illuminated and adorned with a great variety of toys, sweetmeats etc.’ (Rochester Union Advertiser, December 29, 1840). Children surrounded the tree, and after the candles were lit pastor Mullhauser led a prayer and all sang hymns in German. Young George Ellwanger held a speech in English, telling about Christmas celebrations in the old country and explaining the symbolism of the tree: ‘In the mill town whose people were mostly of the Yankee stock, George Ellwanger found that Christmas was a day of rather austere religious observance. He remembered the holiday in the fatherland, the green trees alight with candles, the songs, the bells, the legends, the feasting and, above all, the laughter of the children’ (Arch Merrill: The Mill Town’s First Christmas Tree. UPSTATE. Sunday, December 22, 1968).

George Ellwanger was from Würtenberg and had just a few months earlier, with an Irishman named Patrick Barry, started a nursery business that was to become a flourishing one. Mr. Ellwanger finished his speech by saying that people ‘may have seen something worthy of imitation, although we do not pretend to be qualified to teach you anything.’ Nevertheless the tree became a tradition at the church, and it soon also spread to private homes of others than just of the German immigrants.

And keeping with this holiday tradition, we have decked the halls early with a 12 foot Fraser Fir,  for holiday celebrations and family photos at the Ellwanger Estate B&B.  Happy Holidays!