University of Rochester

Volumes From Ellwanger and Barry's Famous Nursery

August 7, 1997

Beginning with only five acres in Rochester, George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry began their Mount Hope Nurseries that grew to more than 500 acres by 1859. At mid-century, it was considered the nation's largest supplier of fruit trees and ornamental shrubs.

Selected items from the working library of this prominent 19th-century nursery company, called "Gardening Tools: The Books Behind the Success of the Ellwanger and Barry Nursery," are now on display in the lobby of Rush Rhees Library on the University of Rochester's River Campus. The catalogues contain interesting cultural information of the time and fine line drawings. In the exhibit, some books are illustrated with hand-colored engravings and lithographs.

Ellwanger and Barry attracted buyers from all over the country. The horticultural monographs and serials on display were resources for the daily operation of the firm, located on Mt. Hope Avenue.

All materials in the exhibit come from the University's Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. In total, the library houses the business papers of the firm as well as family papers. Other Ellwanger and Barry legacies in the Rochester area include: Highland Park, a gift to the city; the Ellwanger Garden on Mt. Hope Avenue, now owned by the Landmark Society of Western New York; as well as many architectural gems in the Mt. Hope neighborhood.

Admission to the exhibit is free.