The practice of architecture does not always mean designing and building a brand new structure. Sometimes, and with increasing frequency, there is the request for modification of an already existing structure. This process is known as adaptive reuse. Adaptive reuse allows for preservation of a building’s character as well as the structure itself. By employing adaptive reuse, the architect can maintain original structural details while creating modern, functional facilities that utilize new mechanical and electrical systems.

The City of Rochester and its surrounding region have employed adaptive reuse with many of its historic structures. Schools have become condominiums and apartments, a railroad station is now a restaurant, an armory has become a performing arts center, a church is a school of music, and manufacturing and retail operations have become office spaces.

In each of these instances, there has been a careful and pronounced effort to maintain many elements of the structure’s character and unique history within the community even if the function of the building has been altered completely.

With the Hallman Chevrolet building, for example, once a car dealership and repair shop, the pristine art deco exterior and much of the interior has been kept absolutely true to its original appearance while the building itself has become the home of a coffee shop. The Empire Brewing Company, once the Rochester Button Factory, has a small display at the entrance paying homage to the long-closed manufacturer and an inscription above the doorway reveals the buildings history.

As is the case with several communities, Rochester has a rich history.

The following structures have all played important roles in Rochester’s past. While they serve very different purposes than originally intended, they are all still standing and have been adapted to suit present needs and modern demands.


  • Ellwanger and Barry School No. 24

  • Horace Mann School No. 13

  • East High School

  • Academy Building

  • Bevier Building

  • Cutler Union


  • Warner Castle

  • Bissell House

  • Brewster-Burke House

  • Jonathan Child House

  • Railroad Stations

  • Lehigh Valley Railroad Station


  • GeVa Theatre

  • Churches

  • Central Presbyterian Church

  • St. Joseph’s Church

  • Hotels and Inns

  • United States Hotel

  • Richardson’s Canal House

  • Car Dealerships

  • Hallman Chevrolet

  • Firehouses

  • Firehouse #6

  • Manufacturing and Retail Space

  • Gorsline Building

  • Rochester Button Factory

  • Stein Manufacturing Company Building

  • Duffy Powers Building

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