The George Eastman Museum is eager to reopen to our members on July 17 and the general public on July 19. Our visitors will experience a transformed Colonnade.
When George Eastman’s mansion and gardens were extensively restored thirty years ago, many parts of the structure and estate were beyond the scope of that ambitious project. Since fall 2012, we have completed overdue restorations of the Palm House, the porte cochere, the Conservatory roof, the North Organ, the East Porch, and the lily pool in the Schuyler C. Townson Terrace Garden. Coming soon are the extensive window restoration project and restoration of our historic garden structures.
The most important, complex, and costly restoration project has been the Colonnade, which is the corridor — lined with windows onto the Terrace Garden — between the Dining Room and the Palm House. This structure
provides the only interior route between the museum’s main entrance and galleries and our historic mansion and Terrace Garden.
During George Eastman’s life, the Colonnade was open to the east during the months of mild weather, allowing an unobstructed view of his beloved Terrace Garden. We have come as close as possible to re-creating this original view by installing a continuous wall of insulated glass.
The Colonnade has received extensive restorations. The roof has been replaced and its support structure restored. The central gable structure has been righted and bolstered. The vaulted ceiling has been recoated with a cementitious material that closely matches the original. The floor structure has been replaced and installed with new red quarry tiles like the originals.
A new climate control system will assure year-round comfort of our visitors. Cove lighting will illuminate the stunning vaulted ceiling. Outside the glass, five wood pillars that were installed after a fire in 1949 have been replaced with Indiana limestone pillars to match the originals. New gutters and downspouts have been installed to better protect the building.
When the museum reopens, the interior of the Colonnade will be complete, but work remains to paint its exterior and replant the original wisteria, which our landscape team has nurtured during construction. Many brick paths in the Terrace Garden will be regraded for accessibility. Finally, our landscape team will replant the flower beds.
We thank our many employees who have contributed and will contribute to this essential project. We express our appreciation to our staff members, volunteers, and visitors who have graciously tolerated the necessary closings and unavoidable inconveniences. Bero Architecture and the Pike Company, the general contractor, have served us well in this complex and dynamic project.
The Eastman Museum is grateful for generous contributions to the Colonnade Restoration Project by Bruce B. Bates; the Saving America’s Treasures grant program, funded by the Historic Preservation Fund administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior; Georgia P. Gosnell; the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, through Title 9 of the Environmental Protection Act of 1933 under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council Initiative; the Davenport-Hatch Foundation; and the Vitality Grant in Historic Preservation from Rochester Area Community Foundation.
The Bruce B. Bates Colonnade has been named in honor of a Rochesterian who has actively served as a leading trustee and trustee emeritus of our institution since 1977. He has been one of the foremost benefactors of the museum for many years.
His munificent lead donation last year allowed us to proceed with the Colonnade Restoration Project. Modest about his philanthropy, he was reluctant to accept this recognition, but it is well deserved given his leadership, innumerable contributions of time and treasure, and steadfast commitment to our institution. The George Eastman Museum is truly privileged to acknowledge our dear friend Bruce B. Bates.
Bruce Barnes, PhD
Ron and Donna Fielding Director