Rochester Civic Garden Center: a castle in the city


Tucked behind a hill on Mt. Hope across from the cemetery one may not expect to see a castle here in the city of Rochester, but you will definitely find one!

Warner Castle, Rochester Civic Garden Center

Built in 1854, Horatio Gates Warner designed his home to resemble the ancestral castle of the Clan Douglas he saw on a trip to Scotland. Built from native limestone from a local quarry, the castle originally had 22 rooms and 62 doors inside. The west tower vestibule floor is made from Vermont marbled quarried in the Lake Champlain area and if you look closely you can even find fossils in the tiles.

Fossils in the Marble at Rochester Civic Garden Center

There was a drawing room, a billiard room, a ladies sitting room, the children's nursery, library, bedrooms, bathrooms, wine cellar, kitchen, dining room and much more. But today, you'll find quite a different home.

Warner Castle Stairwell

In 1964 the Rochester Civic Garden Center became the tenant of this historic castle (for the full history a self-guided tour is definitely recommended). The RCGC is a not for profit horticultural education center. It's mission is “to improve the quality of life in the Genesee Region by fostering knowledge, providing information, increasing interest and promoting all aspects of gardening and horticulture.”

1926 Photo of Warner Castle

Over 200 classes a year are offered to the community, including certificate programs in basic gardening, landscape design, plant propagation, plant identification, pruning, and floral design, and a variety of individual gardening, horticulture, and floral design classes.

Landscape Design program at Rochester Civic Garden Center

Planning a wedding and want to do the flowers yourself? Take the "Make Your Wedding Magical" class in April!

Floral Design Classes

If you're looking to learn without taking a class right away, the horticultural library contains over 4,500 volumes on all aspects of horticulture and gardening, as well as many magazines and garden catalogs.

Library at Rochester Civic Garden Center
Library at Rochester Civic Garden Center

And we haven't even begun to discuss the Sunken Garden! The garden was designed by noted Landscape Architect Alling Stephen DeForest in 1932, who also designed the original landscape of the George Eastman House. The Sunken Garden can even be rented from the Monroe County Parks Department for wedding photos (click more information).

Warner Castle Grounds Map

So whether you take a class or 10, become a member and reap the benefits, volunteer, attend an event, or peruse the library, we hope you enjoy this city gem!

Volunteer Opportunities

Rochester Civic Garden Center:

Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 9am-4pm

Library Hours: Regular RCGC hours as well as 9:30-12:30 on the 3rd Saturdays of January through June. RCGC is open to the public. Reservations requested for groups of 8 or more. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.