The Former Home of the Rochester Historical Society

Offered at $1,695,000

Contact Richard C. Garth, Associate Real Estate Broker

Phone: 585-748-4040 • Email: RCGarth@gmail.com

In 1817, Silas O. Smith purchased ninety wooded acres outside of the growing pioneer village of Rochesterville, on the country road to the distant village of Pittsford. He had come to the frontier from Massachusetts in 1810 and set up as a dry goods merchant. In 1838, Smith began work, with the architect/builder Alfred Badger, upon what would become the grand statement of his success and his place in the society of the growing city. He and a few other leading citizens decided to forsake the fashionable streets of the Third Ward for the spacious woodlands east of town. Badger was from Portsmouth, NH and he and Smith found inspiration for Smith’s new house amongst the finest houses of their former homes in New England. By 1844, three beautiful Greek Revival houses, the Pitkin house across the street, the Ericson-Perkins house, now the Genesee Valley Club, to the west, and the Smith house, became the foundation for what would become the city of Rochester’s most beautiful thoroughfare, and would inspire the mansions that would come to line East Avenue. Smith named his new home Woodside for its location on his ninety wooded acres.

The name is perhaps no longer literally fitting but it accurately connotes the elegant tranquil ambiance that this extraordinary architectural treasure creates through both its exterior and interior design. Thoroughly and lovingly renovated and modernized, Woodside’s architectural integrity and beauty remain while offering the comfort and lifestyle of all new mechanics and contemporary conveniences.

Viewed from East Avenue, the house still makes the impressive statement in rich architectural language that Silas Smith intended 180 years ago. The successive balustrades accentuate the great height of the structure drawing the eye up to the most distinctive exterior feature, the round pepper mill cupola. Here the windows are obscured behind decorative iron grilles in an enormous entablature. Former University of Rochester Professor of Fine Arts, Carl K. Hersey, wrote in his study of Woodside, “the house epitomizes in style, proportions, and detail the spirit of the Greek Revival at its best.” The classical detailing and the spectacular architectural statement has been restored and remains true to the original design.

Inside, each of the three floors is bisected by a central hall. These halls hold the graceful curving staircase that morphs to a sharply rising spiral when it leaves the third floor for the cupola. This much-photographed staircase is monumental, imposing and, at the same time, light and almost whimsical.

The first-floor rooms are grandly luxurious, fourteen-foot high ceilings; ten-foot doors, four-inches thick; moldings of astounding size, depth and complexity; fireplaces surrounded by beautifully carved, exotic marbles; stunning, immense light fixtures. And yet, despite all this beautiful grandiosity and luxury, the immense scale of the rooms, they were rendered in such pleasing proportions, in both their size and details that they attain a surprising and pleasing comfort. The rooms on the western side of the first floor are used as the formal, entertaining rooms, living room and dining room. They are separated by pocket doors of rosewood grain. The center entry hall is a lovely large room itself, accentuated by the architectural curves of the staircase. At the rear of the house, the center hall leads to a beautifully renovated powder room and the delightful and spacious covered rear porch that overlooks the back garden.

On the eastern side of the house are two large more informal rooms, still with lovely fireplaces, moldings, and doors, separated by a back hallway and staircase. The room to the rear is open to the kitchen. It is a wonderful everyday living space, perfect for informal dining and the normal activities of daily life. Within the room there is a wet bar with large ice-maker and spacious black, leathered-finish granite counters and cabinets.

The library on the east side of the house can comfortably accommodate a large screen television, the furnishings of a cozy den, an impressive office, or a comfortable family room with built-in shelving to display your collections.

The kitchen features SubZero and Wolf appliances, modern custom ivory-colored cabinetry, more black leathered-finish granite counters, and all the amenities of upscale contemporary kitchen design. From the kitchen there is a recently constructed rear exit into the attached three-car garage. The garage is also a recent addition; it is heated and even features a Tesla charging station. Here are the finest examples of historic design and craftsmanship coupled with luxurious modern amenities in new bathrooms, kitchen, heating and air-conditioning, etcetera.

The second-floor contains three large bedrooms with in-suite baths as well as several other rooms and spaces. The central hall features a large open seating area at the front of the house with access to a balcony above the front portico. There are two large bedrooms with beautifully renovated bathrooms at the front of the house. The master bedroom suite is to the rear on the east side of the house and is a spacious bedroom with fireplace and two generous dressing rooms connected by the master bath. The bathroom has a water closet, luxurious shower stall and separate sinks.

Tucked away in the southwestern corner of the house is a museum quality room that previously served as the gentleman’s smoking room. It was designed and built by the famous Art Nouveau craftsmen and designers of New York City, the Herter Brothers. All of the furnishings, moldings, wall coverings, paneling, carvings, fireplace, and fixtures were designed and executed by the Herter Brothers in approximately 1889. The fanciful carved animals and renderings in brass nails on the leather wall covering are a delight. A secret panel opens to reveal a hidden bar. Legend has it the light fixtures and the chiming clock built into the mantel were made by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

The third floor has four large bedrooms, one full bathroom, and some utility rooms. The finishes here are simple and plain. From here, the stairway becomes a spiral and leads to the round windowed cupola whose door accesses the observation deck outside. Here, the East Avenue cultural district is at your feet. The view of parades, fireworks, or of the neighboring East Avenue spires is unequaled.

The recent renovation included a complete updating of all mechanical systems. All of the plumbing, wiring, heating and air-conditioning were new from the street ten years ago. Forced-air duct work was added and the previous steam boiler and radiators eliminated. Each floor has its own furnace and air-conditioning compressor. The air-conditioning units are on the roof of the garage. The design, execution and quality of components used in the new mechanical systems is of top quality.

The carriage house is a private separate residence included in the sale. It is 2859 square feet and has three bedrooms and three and a half baths. It has a two-story great room with an immense carved stone fireplace. There is a private roof deck and an attached two-car garage. The carriage house was entirely rebuilt ten years ago. The kitchen and baths all feature high quality finishes. It is currently leased month to month. It is conservatively priced at $3300 per month.

485 East Avenue

Main house: 9,050 sf, plus a finished lower level with daylight windows.

First floor: 3,187 sf consisting of three parlors, dining room, foyer, center entrance hall, kitchen, powder room, and covered rear porch.

Second floor: 3,183 sf consisting of three bedrooms with in-suite baths, Herter Brothers gentleman’s smoking room, office, laundry, and central hall.

Third floor: 2,676 sf consisting of 3 large bedrooms, one full bath, and several smaller rooms.

Fourth floor: cupola and surrounding deck.

Lower level: 3,183 sf consisting of a library/media room, laundry room, 2 large rooms adaptable to many uses, a large stone-walled room under the first floor porch suitable for potential wine-cellar.

3-car attached, heated garage.

Total expenditures for gas and electric for 2017 were $6,605.

Individual forced-air, gas-fired furnaces with central

air-conditioning for each floor.


Carriage house: 2,859 sf, attached 2-car garage, private roof-deck above the attached garage accessed from master bedroom.

The interior and roof of the carriage house were newly constructed inside the original shell in 2008.

The first floor consists of a two-story great room with Italian stone fireplace, entry hall, kitchen, office, powder room, and bedroom with in-suite full bath.

The second floor consists of the master bedroom suite, a second bedroom with in-suite jacuzzi bath, and a loft area and balcony overlooking the great room.

The kitchen features granite counters and stainless steel appliances.

There is a gas-fired, forced air furnace with central air-conditioning. Gas, electric, and water services are separate from the main house and all new from the street in 2008.

Separate 2 car attached garage.

The Carriage house is currently leased on a month to month basis, conservatively priced at $3,300 per month plus utilities.

2017 gross income was $39,600.


.895 Acre lot includes a circular driveway and several off-street parking spaces. Additional event parking available along East Avenue.

The total taxes are $37,2275.80 on an assessment of $1,150,000, county tax is $13,962.27, city and school tax is $23,313.53.

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