Warner Castle & the Sunken Garden: Two Public Gems in Highland Park

Warner Castle & the Sunken Garden: Two Public Gems in Highland Park
warner castle

The Warner Castle property was built in 1854 by businessman Horatio Gates Warner to resemble his wife’s house in Scotland.

After the publication Sunday of George Payne’s Touring Hawkeye: An Inside Look at Kodak’s Most Enigmatic Landmark, our MOJO stats skyrocketed in views.  And, adding to George’s saga, a reader provided a juicy update: Rumor has it that the Zapruder film landed at Hawkeye in the early evening of November 22, 1963.

To keep the mojo going, George (who you’ve met on numerous occasions) returns to one of our favorite places: the Warner Castle & the Sunken Garden. George’s photo montage includes extensive archival research, including a visit to the Rare Book Collection at the University of Rochester.

Just recently we were at the Warner Castle for “Good therapy” at the RMSC’s Garden of Fragrance with the Rochester Herb Society.

And who can forget Stalker of the Town plays Jack the Ripper at the Rochester Candlelight Ghost Walk just around the corner.

And in “Alone in the Dawn” Restorationist James Caffrey joins the conversation with more on Adelaide Crapsey, we saw the nearby Claude Bragdon house.

And on a match.com outing divining-page0001a couple of years ago, we divined for love and saw the same cute cat that appears in George’s story!



Warner Castle & the Sunken Garden: Two Public Gems in Highland Park

All photos taken by George Paynecivic-garden

To my knowledge, Warner Castle on Mt. Hope is the only actual castle that exists in our city. This stone fortress with a sunken garden in the backyard was constructed in 1854 to resemble the ancestral castle of the Clan Douglas which supposedly fascinated Horatio Gates Warner, the building’s owner, during a visit to Scotland. Warner, a prominent lawyer, capitalist, and newspaper editor, had not only royal aspirations, but also the means to make his ambitions a reality

In many people’s opinion, this Gothic styled castle is just as much an architectural statement today as it was in 1854; but the real treasure is the IMG_3965Sunken Garden designed by famous landscape architect, Alling S. DeForest (1875-1957). DeForest studied with the Olmsted Firm, learning the trade from the world’s greatest landscape architect and apostle of public spaces himself, Frederick Law Olmsted. Fittingly, the Warner Castle is now owned and operated by the Monroe County Parks Department and rests within the tranquil arboretum of Highland Park, perhaps one of Frederick Law Olmsted’s most impressive municipal achievements. (Highland Park was also Rochester’s first park after the land was donated to the city by the horticulturists George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry.)

Rocwiki.org/Warner Castle

About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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