The Jonathan Child House in Rochester, New York by Patty Marasco
Photography by Patty Marasco, unless otherwise noted.
Scully went on to say:
Do they attempt, for example, to echo the shapes of the landscape or to contrast with them? In a rather too large generalization, it might be said that all pre-Greek or non-Greek cultures chose the first alternative and the Greeks more or less invented the second.
Nowhere is the contrast with the natural world of the woodlands more apparent than with Rochester, New York’s Jonathan Child House, where Greek and Roman influence abound.
In 1834, Jonathan Child, the first mayor of Rochester, commissioned architect S.P. Hastings with this majestic hilltop mansion. For his wife Sophia, who was the daughter of Nathaniel Rochester, the founder of Rochester, and himself, built 1837-1838, the house was far more grandiose than any other home in the then fledgling city.
The end result included five 11-foot-tall Corinthian columns across the front, ornamental cornices and elliptical domed ceilings. The porches on either side of the mansion are flanked by Ionic columns.
When I visited the mansion, I saw that adjustments were made from original Greek buildings such as: use of wood for the columns instead of marble, many windows and multiple chimney’s for fireplaces. However the Greek influence is everywhere, like traveling back in place and time.
Intricate antique work is on the cornice, the frieze, the entablature and the porch ceiling as well as above the windows.
When the mansion was originally built, it was simply called “The Jonathan Child House”, however locals quickly labeled it “Child’s Folly” both for its size, style and the lavish parties and balls that took place here.
Threatened with demolition in the 1950’s, the mansion found a savior in the Landmark Society of Western New York. It is currently referred to simply as “Pillars”, standing with its columns and low pitched roof as a symbol of our own young country’s “antiquity” and a reminder of the enormous influence of ancient Greek architecture on western culture.
A side porch with pediment supported by Ionic columns.
A drawing of various carvings (from GetArchive,net).
The portico with urns.