Sonnenberg Gardens Japanese Garden Tea House

Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion

Sonnenberg Gardens, in the City of Canandaigua, is an exceptional example of the lavish wealth and philanthropy of the Gilded Age.

Sonnenberg Gardens Mansion Historic Site conservatory
Sonnenberg Gardens Mansion Historic Site Tea House

Like the mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, Sonnenberg was a summer home for Frederick, the founder of First National Bank (now City Bank) and his wife, Mary, who grew up in Canandaigua and whose father was Governor of New York State.

I found it fascinating that Mary and her traveling party had tickets to sail home to the United States on the RMS Titanic April 14, 1912. She changed her plans and decided to stay in Europe a bit longer.

Sonnenberg Gardens tram mansion

Getting Around Sonnenberg Gardens

Once you’ve parked and come through admissions, the park is free to explore. You could either view the map as a literal step-by-step guide or wander aimlessly and see what you can discover on your own.

The main roads through the 50-acre property are paved and easily walkable. Some of the places you can explore, like the Tea Garden and the Rock Garden, are accessed by windy, uneven footpaths.

Sonnenberg Gardens tram

There are also trams available that can take you anywhere in the park, but are especially useful getting from the entrance to the mansion and back. The drivers are excited to share details and stories as you drive along.

Sonnenberg Gardens bedroom window

Inside Sonnenberg Gardens Mansion

You can explore two of the three floors in the mansion. Unlike other historic homes where most of the space is roped off, you are pretty free to explore every detail up close.

The Sonnenberg Gardens

Sonnenberg Gardens garden view
Sonnenberg Gardens Italian garden walkway
Sonnenberg Gardens Italian Garden path

Italian Garden

1903

There is a bedroom porch on the second floor that offers a perfect view of the gardens below.

Sonnenberg Gardens Italian Rose Garden
Sonnenberg Gardens metal structure

Rose Garden

1906

Sonnenberg Gardens Old Fashioned Garden

Old-Fashioned Garden

1906

Sonnenberg Gardens fountain

Blue & White Garden

1912

Sonnenberg Gardens Japanese Tea Garden
Sonnenberg Gardens Tea Garden Buddha

Japanese Garden & Tea House

1906

Sonnenberg Gardens Sub Roas
Sonnenberg Gardens dragon fountain

Sub-Rosa

1907

Sonnenberg Gardens Conservatory

Conservatory Complex

1915

The glass conservatory is an example of Lord & Burnham’s extraordinary work. Their portfolio includes the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, where they were contracted by Frederick Law Olmsted during the development of Cazenovia and South Parks.

Sonnenberg Gardens rock garden path
Sonnenberg Gardens stone bridge

Rock Garden

1920

Sonnenberg Gardens Abundance

Finger Lakes Wine Center

The 1911 stained glass Tiffany-style window was crafted by the Pike Stained Glass Studio in Rochester, NY. William Pike, founded the company in Rochester in 1908, after working for Louis Comfort Tiffany in New York City.

Enjoy a wine tasting, for a small fee, in their tasting cellar located near the parking lot. Learn more

More Information about Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion

Open May 1 – October 31

Located in the City of Canandaigua, 30 miles / 35 minutes from Rochester. View Map

Check their website for current admission fee. Admission includes entrance into the gardens, greenhouse, and mansion.

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Map of the grounds

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What is your favorite spot at Sonnenberg Gardens?

Share with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!

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2 thoughts on “Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion”

  1. Why don’t you tell us where this is located? I had to scroll quite a bit to find that her father was a governor of New York. First clue. The stained glass was made by a company in Rochester, NY. Second clue. Then toward the end, I read something about the Finger Lakes and a winery. Third clue. But I still don’t know where it is.

    1. Susan, thank you so much for taking the time to let me know its location in the City of Canadaigua was missing! I’ve added it to the first paragraph and also additional location information at the bottom of the article. Location is a critical detail! I hope it didn’t discourage you from seeking it out. I’d love to hear abut your trip if you go!

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