Campaign to rebuild Highland Park pavilion gains momentum as county pitches in $600,000
A campaign to reconstruct the Children’s Pavilion in Highland Park dates back to 2002, and the hope was to raise enough money to hold a groundbreaking in 2004.
Obviously, that didn’t happen. But this week the Highland Park Conservancy, a nonprofit group dedicated to the preservation, enhancement and restoration of the park, and Monroe County officials announced a revised goal to rebuild the structure in time for a 2022 groundbreaking, noting that during the past 18 months, more than half of the $3 million needed for the project either has been raised or pledged, including $600,000 from the county.
“I fell in love with Highland Park the first time I walked and explored the park in 1967,” Edna Claunch, vice president of the conservancy’s board and co-chairperson of the Children’s Pavilion Reconstruction fundraising effort, said in a statement. “But something was always missing — the large footprint at the tallest point in the park seemed a lonely place.”
The three-story circular structure opened in 1890 on that Reservoir Avenue spot, about 500 feet northeast of the reservoir fountain.
At 62 feet around and 46 feet high, the pavilion was designed to provide “scenic vistas” and be a place for children to breathe clean air in Rochester, which was becoming grimier as the city grew, according to a 2014 Democrat and Chronicle story. Its $7,000 cost was covered by famed nurserymen George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry, who also donated 20 acres of land to form the park. However, by 1963, the pavilion had fallen into such disrepair that it needed to be torn down.
The present goal is to complete and dedicate the new pavilion, on its original footprint, in time for the 200th anniversary of the birthday of park designer Frederick Law Olmsted, who envisioned the structure as a focal point.
Something the new pavilion will have that the original didn’t: an elevator, which will give all visitors, including people who can’t use stairs, access to the top floor.