Archive for the 'House & Gardens' Category

Eleven Moments at Eastman House

Posted by on Nov 11 2011 | House & Gardens, Other

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Restoration Project: The Palm House

Posted by on Sep 27 2011 | History, House & Gardens

The Palm House at George Eastman House is a glass-roofed, greenhouse room built in 1905 as a unique component of this National Historic Landmark. Also called the Solarium or Sun Room, it serves as an essential connecting space between the museum galleries and the historic mansion. It has a distinctive design, historic character, and is bright year-round— which we really enjoy during those gray and gloomy Rochester winter months.

Remarkably, the Palm House glass roof has stood the test of decades of our rigorous climate, but it is now deteriorated to the point where the room cannot be used for anything but a pass-through.


Aerial View showing the Palm House from the exterior.


Palm House interior today with signs of deterioration and temporary repair.


Palm House used as a Member’s Lounge in the early 1950s shortly after Eastman House became a Museum.


Greenhouse interior during George Eastman’s day.


A view of the Palm House exterior during George Eastman’s day.

As you may notice in the historic images above, there were four green houses and an orchid lean-to located next to the Palm House. The lean-to was connected to a potting room, which was connected to the Palm House where tropical plants were grown.

The restoration process is underway with several goals in mind: to restore the safety and comfort, to develop usability of the space, and last but not least—  to make it more energy-efficient. As the gateway between the historic house and the modern museum, it serves as both a first glimpse to the legacy of the man who lived here and his impact today.

Editor’s note: The Palm House Restoration is one of the projects featured in our Photo Finish 5K  Philanthropy Challenge fundraiser.



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The Wonders of the Gingerbread World

Posted by on Dec 13 2010 | House & Gardens, Other

The inspiration for my Pyramids of Egypt gingerbread for Sweet Creations 2010 comes from my Mother.  As a young child, I had the good fortune of my Mother teaching me how to cook. She always stressed the importance of understanding the basic principles of cooking along with having patience for the whole process. With her guidance, I grew up to have a career in food service. Often  I will call her and let her know what I have just created.  I always thank her for giving me the gift of “culinary knowledge.”

Timothy’s creation, featuring ‘Gingerbread Mummies’.

For my Pyramids of Egypt Sweet Creation, I made a “test” gingerbread man mummy.  I wanted to make sure the phyllo casing would hold up to a month of exposure at the Eastman House. When I pulled the first mummy out if the oven, the first thing I did was called my mother to let her know what I had just made. Not only did the mummy look cute, gingerbread with added butter and sugar tasted pretty good.

I made the ancient Pyramids of Egypt on behalf of the Membership of the Eastman House— because Memberships help preserve the collections for an eternity!

Editor’s note: we love how creative our gingerbread makers are every year…and have seen some pretty interesting themes. Here are a few from this year’s display:

Rock ‘n’ Roll

Famous Landmarks Holiday Traditional

To see more Museum images, visit our Museum Photographer’s Flickr Photostream.

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Honoring Eastman biographer Elizabeth Brayer

Posted by on Oct 15 2010 | History, House & Gardens

For more than 28 years I have been educating the world about George Eastman and his contributions to the world of photography and film, as well as his philanthropic efforts. And while I am the curator of the Eastman Legacy Collection at George Eastman House, the one and only person I can turn to, to answer questions on Eastman that I cannot, is George Eastman historian and biographer Elizabeth “Betsy” Brayer.

Betsy Brayer

She is the one who elevated Eastman’s legacy in Rochester, decades after his death in 1932, by researching archives at Eastman Kodak Company to bring his story to life—first in newspaper stories and ultimately in a 637-page book George Eastman: A Biography

Betsy has also humanized Eastman, the father of popular photography and motion picture film and for decades the greatest benefactor of American education — beginning with dozens of local newspaper articles she wrote in 1979 and 1980 and ultimately the biography published by The Johns Hopkins University Press in 1996 and reprinted in 2006 by the University of Rochester Press. Betsy’s research on Eastman began as a newspaper reporter writing about the architecture along Eastman Avenue. When she set out to write about historic Eastman House, she learned there was not a lot that was known. The more she learned about Eastman, she uncovered one fascinating story after another, and was encouraged to write his biography.

Betsy has told me she is pleased Eastman’s legacy has been fostered through her research and writing, noting there was a long period where Eastman was “sort of out of vogue, and the focus was on new photography and he was considered old hat.”

Betsy’s association with Eastman House began in 1980, when Museum representatives appointed her historical consultant to guide in the renovation of the house and gardens. And over three decades she has kept Eastman’s Legacy alive through her continued research, publications, and speaking engagements, and by serving on the Museum’s George Eastman Legacy and Landscape Committees.

To honor Betsy for her community contributions as an author and historian, George Eastman House will bestow the title of George Eastman Honorary Scholar upon Brayer during a Dryden Theatre ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22. Past recipients of the prestigious George Eastman Honorary Scholar title include directors Ken Burns and John Frankenheimer; actors Dennis Hopper and Jeff Bridges; and writer Roger Ebert.

Although Betsy is formally being honored by Eastman House, representatives from other local organizations will be in attendance to recognize her writing career, as she has authored a book on each:—the Institute for Oral Health, University of Rochester, Friendly Home, Genesee Valley Club, The Chatterbox, and Brighton Historical Society. Her current project is a book about the Eastman Theatre, coming out in December.

The event honoring Betsy Brayer is open to the public. The award ceremony will be followed by a reception in the historic house. Samples of her publications will be on display. Betsy has requested that any donations in her honor be made to the George Eastman Legacy Acquisition Fund. Tickets for this special event are $25 ($20 for Eastman House members), with patron level tickets $50. You can purchase them by calling me at (585) 271-3361 ext. 242 or emailing me at

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End-of-Summer in the Gardens

Posted by on Sep 14 2010 | House & Gardens

At the Museum, we maintain nearly 200 different herbaceous perennials in the gardens. A herbaceous perennial is a winter hardy plant that dies back to the ground each year and lives more than two years. In late summer, we collect seed from some and divide others to maintain a healthy collection— and tomorrow participants spend three hours in my garden class learning how it’s done.

Here’s a look at some examples from around our grounds:





In the following two weeks, students will also be learning about pruning of woody plants and year-end garden maintenance. Yes, it’s that time of year!

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