Preserving Historical Assets
Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park in Canandaigua is dedicated to the preservation, maintenance, and use of the gardens, structures, and collections for the use of the public.
The Community Foundation grant will be used to restore the 1903 Conservatory Complex before it is beyond repair. Currently there are broken windows throughout the complex, built in 1903 by Lord & Burnham in its renowned Victorian Style. It is located in the southwest corner of the estate, that in its early years served as a summer home for philanthropists Frederick Ferris Thompson and his wife, Mary Clark Thompson.
The renovation will begin with the crown jewel of the complex — the iconic center entrance called the Palm House. This domed structure, according to a recent architect's report, is potentially the most important visible feature at the 50-acre Sonnenberg property with 1,100 panes of curved glass.
Work will be done inside and outside. Wooden sash and sill and doors all need to be either replaced or restored. Structural ribs, purlines, and posts, which are the infrastructure of the dome, also need need minor repairs. The adaptive reuse of the glass is nearly complete. During the winter, an internal plastic layer is installed along the dome and windows to prevent the heat from seeping out.
A renewed and energy efficient greenhouse means lower heating bills, but also will allow Sonnenberg to extend its season to visitors and host holiday flower and light shows, as well as grow the annual and perennial display gardens, which more than 34,000 people enjoyed last season.
The Community Foundation is the region's largest private funder of historical preservation efforts.