George Eastman House
Just east of the Rochester Museum and Science Center is the grand 50-room Georgian George Eastman House (900 East Ave., 585/271-3361, www.eastmanhouse.org, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sat., until 8 p.m. Thurs., 1–5 p.m. Sun., adults $10, seniors $8, students $6, kids 5–12 $4) where Eastman Kodak founder George Eastman lived alone with his mother for much of his life.
The house contains all the finest furnishings of its day, including Persian rugs, oil paintings, and carved mahogany furniture polished to a high gleam, but what makes the place interesting is Eastman himself.
Born in 1854, Eastman left school at age 13 to help support his family. He worked first as a messenger boy earning $3 a week, then as an accountant. He began taking photographs at age 23 while on vacation and began searching for an easier way to develop negatives. He spent three years experimenting in his mother’s kitchen. By 1880, George had invented a dry plate coating machine—the genesis of the Eastman Kodak Company.
Eastman’s passions included music, fresh flowers, wild game hunting, and philanthropy. One year, he gave a free camera to every child in America who was turning 13. Then, at age 78, suffering from an irreversible spinal disease, he committed suicide in his bedroom. His suicide note read: “To my friends; My work is done—why wait?”
Adjoining the mansion is the International Museum of Photography, a modern museum holding a fascinating collection of antique cameras and photographic equipment, along with two theaters and four galleries. First-rate exhibits by artists such as Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson are presented.
Stone-Tolan House Museum
Continuing to the far eastern end of East Avenue, you’ll come to the oldest structure in Rochester, the 1792 Stone-Tolan House (2370 East Ave., near Clover St., 585/546-7029, www.landmarksociety.org, noon–3 p.m. Fri.–Sat. Mar.–Dec., adults $3, children $1). A handsome, rustic building with wide floorboards, large fireplaces, and an orchard out back, the house was once both the Stone family home and a popular tavern. It is now owned by the Landmark Society of Western New York.
One of the city’s smaller museums, the 1839 Greek Revival–style Woodside Mansion (485 East Ave., 585/271-2705, noon–4 p.m. Mon.–Fri., adults $3, seniors and students $2, children $1) now serves as the headquarters for the Rochester Historical Society. Lots of fine architectural touches complement the inside, including a spiral staircase. Paintings, costumes, period furniture, toys, and historic photos are on display.
Susan B. Anthony House
In a quiet, somewhat run-down neighborhood west of downtown stands the narrow red-brick home that once belonged to women’s rights advocate Susan B. Anthony (17 Madison St., off W. Main St., 585/235-6124, www.susanbanthonyhouse.org, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sun., adults $6, seniors $5, students and children $3). Simply furnished in the style of the late 1800s, the house contains much Anthony memorabilia, including her typewriters, clothes, letters, photos, and stuffed Victorian furniture.
Anthony, born in Massachusetts in 1820, lived in this house from 1866 until her death in 1906. It was here she was arrested for voting in 1872, and here that she met and planned with fellow reformers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglass. Together with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Gage, Anthony wrote her History of Woman Suffrage in the 3rd-floor attic, a wonderful hideaway now once again strewn with her books and papers.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition