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Holy Rosary Church Complex

Holy Rosary Church
Church Interior Before Rehab
Church Interior After Rehab
Glazed Dividing Wall at the Altar
Convent Before Rehab
Convent After Rehab
Convent Living Room After Rehab
Rectory After Rehab
Rectory After Rehab

Holy Rosary Church Complex

414 Lexington Avenue, Rochester, NY

  • Date Built: 1916-1946
  • Total QREs: $4,000,000
  • Total HTCs: $2,000,000, Federal; $2,000,000 State.
  • Additional funding provided by Low Income Housing Tax Credits

Preservation Studios’ Role:

Preservation Studios completed the Part One, Two, and Three of the Historic Preservation Certification Applications as well as the National Register nomination.


The Holy Rosary Church Complex consists of the church, rectory, and convent as well as a school built in 1981 after the original had been lost to a fire. The design of the buildings use Spanish Mission and Spanish Colonial Revival inspired details with Arts and Crafts fundamentals that were more common in Rochester at the time. While Arts and Crafts permeated design in Western New York, the Spanish inspired elements of the church and rectory are far less common to the region and reflect Father Arthur Hughes’s explicit intention to create a Mission style church for the parish. Spanish inspired styles became popular in the late nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century, particularly with the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 in San Diego.

Parish history extends back to 1889, when Bishop McQuaid initiated a small Catholic Mission from St. Patrick’s Church to serve the Glenwood area of Rochester. At the time of its inception, the mission served 89 Catholic families in this area who previously traveled to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the middle of the city to worship. Bishop McQuaid established dozens of Catholic churches across the city to serve the Catholic immigrant communities—particularly Germans and Irish—whose children faced discrimination in public schools. Holy Rosary served a mostly Irish working class population. It was Rochester’s fifteenth Catholic church and among twenty-six parishes that Bishop McQuaid established.


The parish continued to grow to the point that the previous school and church became insufficient after ten years. Father Arthur Hughes, who was appointed pastor in 1914, proposed that a new building be constructed in the Spanish Mission style. The following year, he presented plans for a church and rectory designed by John T. Comes and John E. Kauzor of Pittsburgh in partnership with Charles W. Eldridge of Rochester. Contemporary descriptions of the design and historical accounts of its construction identify the complex as exemplary of the Spanish Mission style, likely because of such visible details as the red tile roof, the Mudejar rose window and the arcaded pergola. Despite these features, which clearly evidence the intention of making Holy Rosary a unique building in the area, a more apt description of the complex also considers its situation within the Arts and Crafts zeitgeist of the time. Arts and Crafts philosophy prized natural materials and craftsmanship, which was articulated in Rochester through brick and Medina sandstone and references to such Prairie School features as overhanging eaves and brackets. In addition to these elements, the interior of the rectory at Holy Rosary displayed Arts and Crafts aesthetics with dark wood wainscoating and sandstone fireplace. Clearly the intent to create a Mission style church was central to the design process of the church and convent, regardless of the stylistic purity of the final products. The intention of the Mission style church complex reflects Father Hughes’s desire to make Holy Rosary a unique landmark in the city. His trip to California underscores the extent to which he sought an authentic design yet the choice of brick and sandstone walls instead of stucco tempered the Mission style designs for Rochester’s climate and architectural context

Church properties are often very difficult to reuse as the sanctuary space of the church cannot be substantially divided within current guidelines. As a result, a creative use of flexible learning space was created within the church and new construction was limited to a highly glazed wall near the altar and two offices shoehorned underneath the choir loft so the general feeling and openness of the church was maintained. The remaining buildings were converted entirely to new affordable apartments for low to moderate income residents. The program additionally utilized the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program as administered by the NYS Homes and Community Renewal

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