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RPO Showhouse 2008 to be a Masterpiece in Design

February 28, 2008

Historic Ellwanger Mansion to be Transformed as Fundraiser for Orchestra’s Educational and Community Programs

Rochester, NY –The historic 1839 Ellwanger Estate at 625 Mount Hope Avenue will be transformed from top to bottom by 35 leading interior designers, artists, and craftsmen from across the region as part of the fifth biennial Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Showhouse.  The month-long fundraising event begins on Friday, May 16 and runs through Sunday, June 8, opening with flair during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, May 15 at 10:00 a.m., with special guest, RPO Music Director Christopher Seaman. The Showhouse will be open to the public for tours, Wednesdays-Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Private tours and special functions including chamber concerts featuring RPO musicians, chef events and more will take place on Mondays, Tuesdays and evenings.  Preferred Care and Mrs. Dawn and Dr. Jacques Lipson will be the presenting Showhouse sponsors.

Designers will be very busy reconstructing every square inch of the mansion’s 37 rooms and spaces prior to opening day.  Each room has been stripped, renovated and completely furnished by a different designer, resulting in an eclectic array of extravagantly adorned spaces including bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, several living areas, multiple porches, and a unique Bride’s Room.  Surrounding the house is a beautiful garden – which will be available for outdoor enjoyment during Showhouse – and decorative wall designed by Fletcher Steele.  The original 4000-square foot Carriage House still stands on the property; actual horse stalls will be refurbished and featured as part of Noteworthy’s Symphony Showhouse Boutique, specializing in sales of unique glass, art and many handcrafted, one-of-a-kind items.

The Ellwanger Mansion is truly a significant piece of Rochester history.  In 1835 as a 17-year old German immigrant, George Ellwanger came to Rochester with interests in developing a horticulture business.  The result was the Ellwanger & Barry Nursery specializing in flowers and fruit, becoming the largest of its kind in the world at the time. It inspired the Rochester moniker “Flower City,” replacing the earlier, more industrial-focused “Flour City.”  Venetian Oak paneling, staircases, and columns accent the 10 bedroom, 13 bath home, complemented by an original Hook & Hastings pipe organ constructed in 1878.  Five acres of the original gardens still surround the property, including one of the original 16 greenhouses adjacent to the beautiful Carriage House.  Ellwanger’s granddaughter Helen was an early preservationist who helped to establish The Landmark Society of Western New York in the 1930s, hiring landscape architect Fletcher Steele to add design elements to the gardens.  Upon her death in 1982, Helen willed the house and garden to The Landmark Society which maintains the garden and opens it up to the public several times a year. 

RPO Showhouse ticketing information will be available after March 15 at www.rposhowhouse.org.  Ticket prices are as follows: adults/$15 in advance, $18 at the door; children 12 and under/$12 in advance, $15 at the door.  Babes in arms are free.

The RPO Showhouse is a fundraiser for the Orchestra’s varied music education programs.  The 2006 Showhouse raised more than $118,000 to support those programs.

Celebrating its 85th season in 2007-08, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music.  The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award and two recent ASCAP awards for adventurous programming. 

Note:  A complete list of designers and “before” photos of the mansion and gardens are available.  Five colorful graphics depicting different aspects of the estate also are available on request.


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