Southwest Quadrant - Corn Hill
Corn Hill, Rochester's oldest residential neighborhood, is also one of its most diverse. Its boundaries begin on the east along the bank of the Genesee River and move north to Interstate 490 with a twisting, turning Ford Street marking its western and south edges.
Within these boundaries, historic 19th century mansions are located in close proximity to modern townhouses. Its diverse population began in its inception and continues today to reflect the very best of urban living. Its residents include young families, gay partners and empty nesters in a rainbow of colors.
City founder Col. Nathaniel Rochester lived in Corn Hill along with the early mill owners and their families. This prosperous population led to nicknames like the “Ruffled Shirt Ward” or the “Silk Stocking District.” Joining “Ruffled Shirt” residents were freed slaves who made High Street, now renamed Clarissa, the City’s first African American neighborhood.
By the 1960s, many of the old houses were facing a wrecking ball through urban renewal projects until in the 1970s a group called “New Rochester” set in motion efforts to reclaim and rehabilitate Corn Hill.
Forty years later, many of the historic buildings remain today with new tenants. These include the Henry Shaw Home (1837), the Campbell-Whittlesey House (1835) and the Hervey Ely House (1837). The Ely House is now home to the Daughters of the American Revolution, Irondequoit Chapter.
Corn Hill green space includes Lunsford Park, formerly named Caledonia Square and Plymouth Circle Park, now named for the city’s first African American doctor. In the center of the circle of green is a 19th century gazebo once located on the grounds of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church before the church was destroyed by fire. The Ralph Avery Mall is another area park, which was created as a tribute to a local artist who contributed to Saturday Evening Post and Reader’s Digest magazines.
In recent years, a private developer erected Corn Hill Landing, a mix of apartments, restaurants and retail shops alongside the Genesee River.
Corn Hill is well known today for its annual events. Each August for two days, more than a quarter million visitors pack its narrow streets for the Corn Hill Art Festival which originated in 1968. Also, each summer, the Clarissa Street Reunion brings current and former residents together with visitors for a music-filled event on a street that was once referred to as “Rochester’s Broadway” because of its jazz clubs. At the end of the year in December, the Corn Hill Neighbors Association and the Landmark Society of Western New York hold a Holiday Tour of Homes, both historic and modern.
If you would like additional information about this neighborhood, please contact the Southwest Quadrant Neighborhood Service Center:
923 Genesee Street
Rochester, NY 14611