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Historic Cunningham Carriage Returns to Rochester

October 6th, 2014

After more than 140 years after leaving the Cunningham Carriage Factory on Litchfield Street in Rochester NY, a late-19th century brougham-style carriage returned home on Tuesday, September 30.
The following post by Amy Cavalier was originally published at DePaul.org.

Thousands of miles, several movie appearances and more than 140 years after leaving the Cunningham Carriage Factory on Litchfield Street in Rochester NY, a late-19th century brougham-style carriage returned home on Tuesday, September 30…

After sitting vacant for 25 years, DePaul Properties is getting ready to re-open the doors of the former Cunningham Carriage Factory as 71 mid-market loft apartments, to be called the DePaul Carriage Factory Apartments.
After sitting vacant for 25 years, DePaul Properties external link is getting ready to re-open the doors of the former Cunningham Carriage Factory as 71 mid-market loft apartments, to be called the DePaul Carriage Factory Apartments.

Motor assembly at the Cunningham Carriage Factory circa 1920. [PHOTO: From the families of Peter, Joan and Michael Cunningham]
Much has changed since James Cunningham and his sons used the factory to produce carriages, and later, motor vehicles, ambulances and even plane motors. At the centerpiece of the restoration project will be the original Cunningham carriage purchased from John Greenall of the Greenall Carriage House external link of Windsor, Vermont who has owned the luxury carriage for 40 years.

“I couldn’t believe he had it and was willing to sell it and capable of transporting it,” said Vice President of DePaul Properties, Inc. Gillian Conde. “Everything lined up. It was like it was just meant to come back.”

The carriage appeared in the movie The Bostonian with Christopher Reeve, and was also in the six-part television series The Buccaneers.
A light, four-wheeled, horse-drawn drop-front coupe carriage often used to transport the family in a funeral procession, the carriage has more recently appeared in the movie The Bostonian with Christopher Reeve in the drivers’ seat, and it was also in the six-part television series The Buccaneers, based on a novel by Edith Wharton. Greenall also lent it out for historical documentaries filmed while he lived in Pennsylvania, as well as for weddings.

Greenall discovered the carriage in a friend’s chicken coop in Connecticut over 40 years ago. It needed work, but it was sound and the interior upholstery was practically like-new.

The original windows have been maintained and the exterior of the carriage has been repainted and restriped.
In restoring the vehicle, Greenall said he maintained the original windows and the interior is ornate with pom-pom tufting and decorative edges on the upholstery, hubcaps etched with the Cunningham moniker, ivory knobs and even a spot in the door for a calling card. The exterior of the carriage has been repainted and restriped. As to who owned the brougham carriage before Greenall, he said, the Cunningham company did not keep records for original sales.

“I am so happy a group that cares like DePaul will truly appreciate this piece of history,” he said. “This vehicle was one from my personal collection. It was one of the first I ever acquired, so to have them go to good homes where they’ll be appreciated is very important to me.”

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 6th, 2014 at 8:51 pm and is filed under Rochester Destinations, Rochester History, Rochester Images, Rochester News, Transit + Infrastructure, Urban Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

3 Responses to “Historic Cunningham Carriage Returns to Rochester”

  1. I know there are a few commentors who will hate to hear this, but I’m seeing that more and more of the developers in the city are doing a better job of preserving the past, to some degree, than before.

    I do appreciate most of them understand that those looking to return to the city want to move into “cool” places like the DePaul Carriage Factory Apartments, and so are simply making the noises their potential renters want to hear. But, one has to appreciate that at a minimum they’re paying lip service to those who want to preserve these old buildings. It means that concerns about preserving the past have become enough of an issue that it needs to be addressed. We might not be where we want to be yet, but it’s a small sign we’re moving in the right direction.

  2. I think it’s a battle of fits and starts. We’re what, 1, 2 years out from the teardown of 13 Cataract for a parking lot. From speaking to the architects, making this happen wasn’t easy. Further, this building is all adaptive housing, and no market rate. That might actually mean this is better, because it’s not being done to attract tenants. I’m not sure. Either way, it’s hard to complain about anything good like this happening.

    Maybe someday the city will open up to the idea of liner retail reserved for incubating businesses started by this building’s residents. One parking space per unit is still too much for a building like this. A partnership with Simon to make this happen would be really incredible. That might be too out there of an idea, though.

  3. Teresa Mueller says:

    The building looks beautifully restored and that carriage will be the crown jewel!
    My mother grew up on Madison Street and often told of delivering newspapers to the Cunningham factory. At the time, she thought nothing of it (late ’40’s, early ’50’s). Later, she decided it was very creepy and dangerous, considering the subsequent decline of the neighborhood. Her parents and the family business, Baldino Opticians, moved to Gates in 1959.


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