Preserve Rochester History; Save 13 Cataract Street

Rochester, NY needs YOUR help in preserving one of it’s most historic buildings. 13 Cataract Street, once home to Rochester’s Standard Brewing Co. has been slated for demolition! Help save this building by signing the petition.


It’s been a tumultuous decade for brewing in Rochester. In 2000 Genesee Brewery was reorganized into the High Falls Brewery. Shortly after it’s reorganization the High Falls Brewery began expanding it’s contract brewing portfolio, providing an important revenue stream. During this same period the brewery expanded it’s own product portfolio transforming the J.W Dundee brand into a respected craft label; Dundee Ales & Lagers. In 2008 High Falls Brewery started to reach out to the community by offering tours of the facility for the first time in it’s history. In February of 2009 KPS Capital Partners purchased the High Falls Brewery. The new investment firm immediately began investing in significant and costly upgrades to the breweries capacity while dually improving product quality (rumored to exceed $20 million). Since acquiring the brewery, KPS Capital Partners has been exploring options for creating a visitor center on the High Falls Brewery campus. A visitor center would represent yet another investment in the brewery and the first investment in the community surrounding their expansive facility. After years of rumors KPS Capitol Partners / High Falls Brewery made it official by announcing their plans to construct a visitor center on the site of an old packaging facility. This visitor center would be a welcome addition to the City of Rochester and the High Falls Brewery…there is one problem though — the construction of this visitor center hinges on the demolition of 13 Cataract Street, Rochester’s oldest brewing relic and one of the last ties to Rochester’s fabled brewing history. Rochester residents will gladly welcome a visitor center. Investing in the City of Rochester is wonderful. Why not develop plans that embrace this historic landmark?

13 Cataract Street first housed the Standard Brewing Co. Founded by German immigrants in 1889, the Standard Brewing Co. constructed the ornate structure which continues to stand today. Barrels of Standard Ale rolled out of the facility until prohibition. Although the Standard Brewing Co. would re-emerge following prohibition it was the Cataract Brewery which operated at 13 Cataract Street during the post-prohibition era. The Cataract Brewery brewed Canandaigua Ale (1933 – 1940), Canandaigua Beer (1933 – 1940), Cataract Ale (1933 – 1940), Cataract Beer (1933 – 1940), and Dutch Beer (1935 – 1939), closing it’s doors in 1940 due to increased competition from the now consolidating brewery landscape in Rochester. Following the Cataract Brewery, Genesee Brewery used the building on a limited basis until sometime in the 1980’s. The building has remained vacant since.


As was typical of the era, the German immigrants that founded Standard Breweing Co. valued architecturally significant buildings, and 13 Cataract Street is a perfect example of the era’s ornate construction style. It features an eccentrically styled roof, Romanesque arched & rose windows, ornamental corner towers, and incorporates a medieval feel. The buildings were designed to have a dramatic look and to beautify an otherwise industrial landscape. Now one of Rochester’s last remaining relics of the city’s rich brewing history, 13 Cataract Street has been scheduled for demolition. Although the structure has received several renovations and additions since its construction the original building remains largely intact. It has, however, become the unfortunate victim of neglect. Broken windows and a worn roof have lent to a pigeon infestation and the lack of attention and segregation from the High Falls Brewery campus has led to its use for less-than-legal activities. None of this eliminates the possibility for restoration. With its original architectural details intact and efforts to shore up the structure throughout history the “bones” remain. The only thing preventing a restoration is the KPS Capitol Partners / High Falls Breweries desire to created a visitor center as quickly and as cost effective as possible. Choosing to “restore” a small packaging facility across the street while demolishing this building in favor of parking. KPS Capitol Partners / High Falls Brewery please reconsider the decision to demolish this structure and instead develop visitor center plans which preserve Rochester’s historical ties!

ITS NOT TOO LATE TO SAVE 13 CATARACT STREET! The City of Rochester has not yet issued any permits and construction has not begun. If you want to help save this building voice your opinion to High Falls Brewery officials and KPS Capitol Partners, which owns the brewery. Be sure to sign the petition below!

Once we reach our goal I plan to hand-deliver the petition to High Falls Brewery officials.
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11 Responses to Preserve Rochester History; Save 13 Cataract Street

  1. Come up with the money to buy it and preserve it then, or else get out of the way of progress! This is the best idea in a long time for a section of the city that could use something nice.

    I can’t believe somebody wants to do something positive for the city and all the whining that is taking place.

    If you want to save it,… come up with the funds,.. if you can’t come up with the funds,.. then I guess it is not important enough to the public to save it.

    Let this company do something positve!

  2. So well put Keith. Not all old things are worth saving. But a rush to knock down something that is over a 100 years old seems like a bad move. It’s not like the offer on the table would bring 40,000 jobs to Rochester :-) why the big rush?

    But seriously, Keith hit it on the head. Any reasonable business person can see the potential here between the falls, the historic architecture, and growing interest in this category of tourism. I’m sure they had these same debates when San Antonio decided to spend BIG money to create a crazy sub-street-level waterway and save the historic buildings. But decades later, aren’t they glad they did with tourism now a significant industry?

    Or perhaps consider Pittsburgh, who decided to save their inclines and historic neighborhoods. They have achieve positive population growth now with young grads electing to stay. These stories all started with decisions like the one we are facing here.

  3. I want to see more exploration into preserving the building to see if it may be used in future plans. The community should not want to keep the building only because it is old, but think about what roll it may truly provide in the community. Brewery tourism has become big business not only in the US, but in much of Europe. The Genesee Brewery is way behind in completing a tourist and tasting house, especially considering their proximity to High Falls and the river. I only ask that they complete their due diligence and see what grants and funds may be available. The history of brewing in Rochester runs deep and may play a key roll in revitalizing that part of the city. If the building needs to be torn down can some of the structure, old signs, wood, barrels be used in the new building?

  4. A new visitor center would be a great addition to Rochester and great to have along the Genesee River Trail. The building is a relic of the past….let us look to the future.

  5. there is no good reason to save the decrepid, asbestos, lead paint laden building. let the company that owns it – do what they want to do with their property. if you want to save it so bad then you should fix it – HERE there is a company in rochester- looking to expand their business and not looking for one red cent from the taxpayers. Have you paid attention to the state of the state lately?

    • The planned visitor center, although welcome, will not be siginificant enough to warrant the destruction of this building. Furthermore you lay claims of asbestos and lead content, neither of which do you provide evidence of, nor has the company itself. If present there are programs designed to help alleviate abatement costs — both state and federally funded programs.

      As for the buildings current condition, The building reached it’s current state because the buildings owners left it to deteriorate at around the same point that the building was awarded historic status by the City of Rochester. As the D&C article today points out — negligence is not a means for demolition and the company must prove to the city that the buildings condition is not a result of their refusal to perform maintenance.

      FYI: The plans call for a visitor center that is open until 5pm weekdays & 6pm on weekends that adds 10 jobs. I would not call this an economic game changer. Sure the investment is welcome and any jobs are good but at what expense? I would love to see the Brewery proceed with a visitor center but not at the expense of this structure — to provide of all things, more parking.

    • I would also like to point out that if those contaminants are present the same abatement process must take place during demolition. Both asbestos and lead require special handling and are are routed to specific landfills designed to handle those substances.

  6. There is no good reason to demolish this building. I hope there will be enough support to make someone rethink this corporate bottom line decision.

    • There is a great reason to demolish this,.. it has been in dis-repair for years, and structurally it is too expensive to fix… If someone wants to keep this building,.. come up with the funds to buy it,.. otherwise,.. get out of the way. This company wants to do something positve,.. LET THEM DO IT !!!!!

      • You’re obviously misinformed. At least two parties made purchase offers for the building and the Brewery declined the offers — which at or above the previous market price (when Genesee Brewery had the buildings up for sale).