Sonnenberg Gardens Japanese Garden Tea House

Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion

Sonnenberg Gardens is an exceptional example of the lavish wealth and philanthropy of the Gilded Age. 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.



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.

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 tram mansion
Sonnenberg Gardens tram


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.

With the exception of a few notes to please not touch or sit, you could almost make yourself at home!

Sonnenberg Gardens bedroom window


The Sonneberg Gardens

Italian Garden
1903

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

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


Rose Garden
1906

Sonnenberg Gardens Italian Rose Garden
Sonnenberg Gardens metal structure

Old-Fashioned Garden
1906

Sonnenberg Gardens Old Fashioned Garden


Blue & White Garden
1912

Sonnenberg Gardens fountain


Japanese Garden
& Tea House
1906

Sonnenberg Gardens Japanese Tea Garden
Sonnenberg Gardens Japanese Tea House
Sonnenberg Gardens Tea Garden Buddha


Sub-Rosa
1907

Sonnenberg Gardens Sub Roas
Sonnenberg Gardens dragon fountain


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 Conservatory


Rock Garden
1920

Sonnenberg Gardens rock garden path
Sonnenberg Gardens stone bridge


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

Sonnenberg Gardens Abundance

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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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