Rochester’s Monroe Square: An Art Deco Treasure

In Touring Hawkeye: An Inside Look at Kodak’s Most Enigmatic Landmark, George Cassidy Payne took us inside Kodak’s Hawkeye Manufacturing Plant, considered to be one of the finest examples of “Factory Art Deco” in the world.

Today, George looks at another example of classic Art Deco architecture, Monroe Square.

Rochester’s Monroe Square: An Art Deco Treasure

First appearing in France after WWI, Art Deco flourished in the 1920-30s. Art historians have described it as “an eclectic style that combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials.”

Rochester has several notable Art Deco buildings. One is Monroe Square. This 103 foot medical office building is located on Monroe Avenue just 200 yards from I-490. Made of concrete, it is an angular, streamlined, low-rise, rigid framed building that has many features of a classic Art Deco structure.

Photography and text by George Cassidy Payne

“The Art Deco style manifested across the spectrum of the visual arts: from architecture, painting, and sculpture to the graphic and decorative arts. While Art Deco practitioners were often paying homage to modernist influences such as Cubism, De Stijl, and Futurism, the references were indirect; it was as though they were taking the end results of a few decades of distilling compositions to the most basic forms and inventing a new style that could be visually pleasing but not intellectually threatening.” –

“With the advent of large-scale manufacturing, artists and designers wished to enhance the appearance of mass-produced functional objects – everything from clocks and ashtrays to cars and buildings. Art Deco’s pursuit of beauty in all aspects of life was directly reflective of the relative newness and mass usage of machine-age technology rather than traditional crafting methods to produce many objects. The Bauhaus school was also interested in industrial production, but in a sense The Bauhaus is the polar opposite as it refrained from artistic embellishments – preferring clean and simple geometric forms.” –

Inside the building there is an impressive collection of fine art.

The building has 3 elevators.

Long time residents of Rochester will know this building as the former site of Sears Roebuck and Co. (Photo taken from Pinterest @