At least 17 recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize visited Rochester

At least 17 recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize visited Rochester

Elie Wiesel at the Alexander Palestra arena, University of Rochester, Democrat and Chronicle, 17 Nov 1986. From On Elie Wiesel and when the School Without Walls read Night

Next week, on December 10th, the Nobel Peace Prize is presented in Oslo, Norway. This year the prize will given to the World Food Programme (WFP) for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.

In advance of the ceremony, we looked at Nobel Peace Prize recipients who visited Rochester before or after being awarded the honor. As far as my research has determined, the list is 17.

Two recipients, Elie Wiesel (1986) and Ralph Bunche (1950) spoke in Rochester in the year in which they received the award.

Barack Obama (2009), Mikhail Gorbachev (1990), Lech Walesa (1983),  Henry Kissinger (1973), and Theodore Roosevelt (1906) visited Rochester after given the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ten others spoke in Rochester before winning the award: Albert Gore (2007), Jimmy Carter (2002), Martin Luther King Jr. (1964), Linus Pauling (1962), Lester Bowles Pearson (1957), George C. Marshall (1953), Jane Addams and Nicholas Murray Butler (1931), Woodrow Wilson (1919) and Elihu Root (1912)


(2009) Barack H. Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

Visited August 22nd, 2013, lunch at Magnolia’s on Park Avenue.

President Barack Obama, August 22nd, 2013, at Magnolia’s on Park Avenue [Provided by Evalyn Gleason in green] From A seat at the President’s table four years later

1st top, with Presidential grilled cheese and tomato soup, now the Obama Special (2016); 2nd top, with Magnolia’s hostess Devin Congdon (2015); 3rd top, with Obama Special (2015); 4th top, Evalyn Gleason and Barack Obama (2013); 1st bottom, (2018); 2nd bottom, local comic Malcolm Whitfield with Obama Special (2018); 3rd bottom, with Obama Special (2017); 4th bottom with Brian Palermo who cooked for President Obama that day (2016). From At a seat from the President’s table five years later

(2007) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”

Visited February 14th 2000, spoke at the University of Rochester, and February 1, 1988, participated in a Democratic presidential nomination debate at the Eastman Theatre with Michael Dukakis and Jesse Jackson.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 2/15/20 Support Vice President Al Gore, a Democratic presidential candidate, shakes hands with University of Rochester during his visit to the River Campus at the River Campus yesterday. He called for improvements at all levels of education. JAMIE GERMANO staff photographer. From Introducing Patrick Boese,  The Top 10 People to Run for President and Lose

Gore campaigning in Rochester during his failed 1988 presidential bid. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Feb 02, 1988

Gore campaigning in Rochester during his failed 1988 presidential bid. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Feb 02, 1988. From Introducing Patrick Boese, Brighton High School ’19, and The Top 10 People to Run for President and Lose

(2002) Jimmy Carter “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.”

Visited multiple times, most recently on October 17th, 1983, spoke at the University of Rochester


As “Citizen Carter,” the former President would return to Rochester three years later after losing the 1980  election to speak at the University of Rochester. Rochester Times Union 10/18/83 [Scanned courtesy of the Local History Division] From October 29th, 1980: Carter at a rally six days before the Reagan revolution. And when Bernie Sanders campaigned for Barry Commoner

(1990) Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev “for the leading role he played in the radical changes in East-West relations.”

Visited October 7th, 2004, spoke at St. John Fisher College.

Saint John Fisher College. Photo: George Cassidy Payne SJF ’00 from An eerie quiet at St. John Fisher College

Democrat and Chronicle, 08 Oct 2004

(1986) Elie Wiesel “for being a messenger to mankind: his message is one of peace, atonement and dignity.”

Visited November 17th, 1986, spoke at the University of Rochester.


Elie Wiesel at the Alexander Palestra arena, University of Rochester, Democrat and Chronicle, 17 Nov 1986. From On Elie Wiesel and when the School Without Walls read Night

(1983) Lech Walesa “for non-violent struggle for free trade unions and human rights in Poland.”

Visited October 4th, 2001, spoke at St. John Fisher. George Cassidy Payne attended, recalling that Gorbachev “called  Cuba the ‘Jurassic Park’ of Communism and predicted that Communism would collapse in China and Vietnam as well because it is not truly ‘progressive.'” So far, Cuba, Vietnam and China are still socialist one party nations.

Democrat and Chronicle, Sun, Sep 23, 2001

(1973) Henry A. Kissinger and Le Duc Tho “for jointly having negotiated a cease fire in Vietnam in 1973.”

Visited November 6, 1986 for the formal dedication of the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business. Kissinger was on the executive advisory committee.

Democrat and Chronicle, Oct 29, 1986

November 6, 1986. Henry Kissinger (left) with William E. Simon. (Simon Business Magazine)

(1964) Martin Luther King Jr. “for his non-violent struggle for civil rights for the Afro-American population”

Visited on 1958, addressed the City Club at the Chamber of Commerce, and 1962 addressed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference convention at the War Memorial.

Democrat and Chronicle, 09 Jan 1958, Thu, [First Edition], Page 23. From Remembering April 4th, 1968 and the Civil Rights Movement at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park

Dr. Martin Luther King addressing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference convention at the Rochester War Memorial, Democrat and Chronicle Oct 26th, 1962. From Remembering April 4th, 1968 and the Civil Rights Movement at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park

Rochester War Memorial, 9/24/16. [Photo: David Kramer] From 56 years ago when JFK spoke at the War Memorial.

(1962) Linus Carl Pauling “for his fight against the nuclear arms race between East and West.”

Pauling first visited On February 4th, 1946 before become an prominent nuclear weapons disarmament activist, delivering the first Harrison Howe Lecture at the Sheraton Hotel entitled “Analogies between Antibodies and Simpler Chemical Substances.”

Democrat and Chronicle, Feb 05, 1946

On October 23rd, 1960, Pauling delivered the University of Rochester’s Cutler Lecture, “The Necessity for Peace” in the Cutler Union where he criticized the nuclear testing proposals of Nixon and Kennedy. The day before Pauling gave a lecture, “Structure of Electron Deficient Substances.”

Democrat and Chronicle, Oct 24, 1960

(1957) Lester Bowles Pearson “for his crucial contribution to the deployment of a United Nations Emergency Force in the wake of the Suez Crisis.”

Visited June 16th, 1947 as the University of  Rochester’s Commencement speaker at the Eastman Theatre. Pearson also received an honorary doctorate.

Democrat and Chronicle, Jun 17, 1947

Eastman Theater [Photo: David Kramer 12/4/20]

(1953) George Catlett Marshall “for proposing and supervising the plan for the economic recovery of Europe.”

Visited, February 7th, 1959, speaking to the Rochester Red Cross Chapter in the Sheraton Hotel. Marshall was the Red Cross national president.

Democrat and Chronicle, February 8th, 1950 LOCAL RED CROSSERS MEET THEIR CHIEF OF STAFF Gen. George C. Marshall (second from left) addressed the Rochester Red Cross Chapter last night as new national president. Others at the speakers tabic, from left, are Paul Miller, chair- man of the local chapter’s 1950 fund drive; Edward Peck Curtis, local chapter chairman, and Mayor Samuel B. Dicker. An overflow crowd heard talk by wartime Chief of Staff.

1961 postcard: Hotel Sheraton Graces Rochester’s East Avenue Rochester NY (ebay)

(1950) Ralph Bunche “for his work as mediator in Palestine in 1948-1949”

Visited February 11th, 1950, speaking at the City Club Lincoln Day luncheon in the University Club. Other guests included Carl Sandburg and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Democrat and Chronicle, Feb 12, 1950. REASON FOR GATHERING: CarI Sandburg, famed Lincoln biographer (left), was slated to be the speaker at City Club Lincoln Day luncheon yesterday but Dr. Ralph Bunche, United Nations official, seemed to take LINCOLN AND HUMAN RIGHTS over talk-making as two men greeted Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt before luncheon. Dr. Bunche and Mrs. Roosevelt, here for UR Human Rights Conference, were honored guests.

The old University Club is now the Inn on Broadway, 26 Broadway [Photo: David Kramer, 12/3/20]

(1946) Emily Greene Balch “for her lifelong work for the cause of peace” and John Raleigh Mott “for his contribution to the creation of a peace-promoting religious brotherhood across national boundaries”

Mott, the YMCA World President, visited on November 10th, 1933, delivery a lecture, “Forces Working For And Against Peace Today,” at the Chamber of Commerce.

Democrat and Chronicle, 10/11/33 Y Leaders Greet Dr. John R. Mott Dr. John R. Mott (center), noted peace advocate was guest and speaker at a luncheon meeting attended by many prominent Rochesterians. Among those who greeted him were Harper Sibley (left) and S. Wirt Wiley, executive of the YMCA. Arms or High Govern, Says Doctor Mott Against Hate and Suspicion, YMCA World President Places Better Understanding 

55 St. Paul Street. The former Chamber of Commerce Building, now the The College at Brockport MetroCenter [Photo; David Kramer 12/4/20]

(1931) Jane Addams and Nicholas Murray Butler “for their assiduous effort to revive the ideal of peace and to rekindle the spirit of peace in their own nation and in the whole of mankind”

Butler visited on December 2nd, 1908, speaking at the Chamber of Commerce banquet in the recently opened Hotel Seneca.

Democrat and Chronicle, Dec 03, 1908. SEVEN HUNDRED MEN LISTEN TO TALKS ON INDUSTRIAL LINES AT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BANQUET James J. Hill, Railroad Magnate; Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, President of Columbia (In iversity, G. R. Carter, Former Governor of Hawaii, the Speakers. Hotel Seneca Ballroom Presents Attractive Appearance for Annual Dinner, One of Most Successful in the Chamber’s History. List of Guests of Honor.

“Hotel Seneca was a hotel located on Clinton Avenue in downtown Rochester. It later became the Manger Hotel, which was later torn down in 1969 and Midtown Plaza was built in its place.” (Rocwiki)

Today, on the same site at 60 S Clinton Ave is the Seneca Building, home to Windstream Corporation.

Seneca Building, 60 S Clinton Ave [Photo: David Kramer 12/03/20]

Jane Addams first visited on March 18th, 1902, giving  lecture under the auspices of the Woman’s Union at Berith [sic] Kodesh Temple, then at the corner of Gibbs and Grove streets.

Democrat and Chronicle, Mar 19, 1902 THE FOUNDER OF TOLLHOUSE LECTURE ON SETTLEMENT WORK BY JANE ADDAMS. AT BERITH KODESH TEMPLE How) the Poor of Chicago Are Helped in Social Ways. Methods Employed to Reach Them and the Resulting “Benefits Described.

Addams returned three years later, delivery a lecture, “Immigration,” under the auspices of the Woman’s Union and the Council of Jewish Women at Bereth [sic] Kodesh Temple.

Democrat and Chronicle, 26 Mar 1905. CHECKS LOYALTY OF IMMIGRANTS GOVERNMENT MISSES OPPORTUNITIES, IT IS SAID. Little Self-government Patriotic Sentiment of Foreigners is Diverted to Trades Unions, Fraternal Organizations, Etc., . Says the Founder of Hail House

The March 25th article announcing her visit noted: “It is regarded as a great privilege to hear Miss Addams, as she is such a busy woman that it is almost impossible to engage her for one of her talks, and it may be many years before she will come to Rochester again.” As far as my research has determined, Addams never returned to Rochester.

Temple B’rith Kodesh, Gibbs Street and Grove Place (ca. 1910) Built at the site in 1894, the synagogue burned down in 1909 and was
rebuilt and rededicated the following year.  As described by Mitch Gruber, Assistant Researcher, City of Rochester, “The photograph here shows the building in the 1920s, when automobiles were becoming increasingly prevalent. The picture reveals a thriving, well-attended congregation, so busy, in fact, that an early traffic control device was required on Grove Street to handle the high volume of cars.” (Retrofitting Rochester)

Temple B’rith Kodesh today at 2131 Elmwood Avenue [Photo: David Kramer 12/2/20]

(1919) Thomas Woodrow Wilson “for his role as founder of the League of Nations”

Visited, November 1st, 1912. Wilson spoke at Convention Hall and the Shubert Theatre four days before elected President.

The Convention Hall is now occupied by Geva Theater, 75 Woodbury Blvd [Photo: David Kramer 12/3/20] See When Wilson spoke at Convention Hall and the Shubert Theatre four days before elected President

(1912) Elihu Root “for bringing about better understanding between the countries of North and South America and initiating important arbitration agreements between the United States and other countries”

Visited January 20th, 1896, speaking at the Rochester Bar Association Dinner at Genesee Valley Club.

Democrat and Chronicle, 21 Jan 1896 THE BENCH AND THE BAR The Rochester Bar Association Dinner at Genesee Valley Club. ELIHU ROOT’S ADDRESS The Eminent Jurist Speaks of the Appellate Court Addresses by Justices Hardin, Bradley, Danforth and Others.

Genesee Valley Club, 421 East Avenue [Photo: David Kramer 12/3/20]

(1906) Theodore Roosevelt “for his role in bringing to an end the bloody war recently waged between two of the world’s great powers, Japan and Russia”

As seen in October, 26th, 1898: the Rough Rider on his way to the Governor’s mansion. TR Comes to Town, again…and again…and again…, Roosevelt visited Rochester many times before and after receiving the award.

Roosevelt’s most significant later visit was on June 12, 1913, when as part of a generic campaign for progressive reforms,  he spoke at three locations in Rochester — the Temple Theater, Convention Hall and Corinthian Hall — before a combined audience of 8,000.

The Temple Theater and the Convention Center during the time of Roosevelt’s visits. (left) Postcard “Temple Theatre, Rochester, N. Y.” Postmarked: 1912 Published by: Souvenir Post Card Co. (; (right) Convention Hall Made by: Souvenir Post Card Co. (1905-1914) 268 Canal Street, New York, NY Posted on Date: 1916 (etsy) See October, 26th, 1898: the Rough Rider on his way to the Governor’s mansion. TR Comes to Town, again…and again…and again…,

Corinthian Street, the site of the former Corinthian Hall. Sculpture of Frederick Douglass by Olivia Kim [Photo: David Kramer 12/4/20]


The Presidential Visits Series in its entirety: James Monroe to Joseph Biden

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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