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.
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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!