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Eastman Building collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RITArc-0026

Scope and Contents

The Eastman Building collection contains a variety of materials related to the building and its opening ceremonies. Many of the materials are from the early 19th century when the structure was first built, such as official guides to the opening week's events, menus from dinners commemorating the establishment, a historical sketch of the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute from 1900, and tickets to the opening ceremony and the "Busy America" exhibit. The collection includes some planning materials, such as a record book from the planning committee and fundraising budget materials.

Additionally, the collection contains materials that were encapsulated in the cornerstone of the Eastman Building on October 15, 2009. These include administrative and governance documents such as by-laws, annual addresses, annual reports, and enrollment statistics; documents related to the fundraising efforts of the Institute during the 1890s; printed material from the university, such as catalogs, brochures, and course descriptions; lectures by various individuals on topics such as sanitary plumbing and the ideal home; materials that provide a historical sketch and general overview of the university and its operations; and newspapers from the time that the building was erected. Also of interest is a copy of a letter written to Ezra R. Andrews, a former president of the Board of Directors for RAMI, from Susan B. Anthony. In the letter, Anthony states her support for the Institute and its role in providing "the best opportunities for practical education on every possible line" for both men and women.

The collection contains two scrapbooks of news clippings related to the building's construction and the opening ceremonies. There are also several loose clippings and photocopies of clippings in the collection.

In addition to these early materials, the collection includes several items from the time the building was in use. For instance, there are documents related to a proposed extension on the building in 1950 and a letter announcing a change to the building's address. There are also materials related to the building's closure, such as a square footage summary, a memorandum regarding the sale of the cafeteria furniture, and an article on the building's state of disrepair in 1973.


  • Creation: 1891-1973

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

In 1900, George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, promised to fund a new facility for the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (RAMI). With over 2,700 students enrolled during the 1899-1900 academic year, RAMI was quickly outgrowing its current space. The Eastman Building officially opened its doors on April 15, 1901. Henry Lomb and Lewis P. Ross held the honor of unlocking the doors, following a ceremony and some celebratory remarks. Although Eastman financed the project and played an active role in the building's design, he chose to not attend the ceremony.

The building was designed by J. Foster Warner, a Rochester-based architect who had designed several other buildings in the Western New York region, including the George Eastman House. Eastman worked closely with Warner, providing his own insight into how the new RAMI building should be designed. At Eastman's suggestion, a lunchroom and recreation were included and the building was made to be fire-proof. Since the project was starting from scratch, the layout was able to be configured so as to best accommodate RAMI's programs. For instance, rooms were grouped together in clusters for the various programs and a library was installed. Ultimately the building was shaped like a letter "E" and was connected to the old building (which still housed the manual training program) by a bridge on the second floor. The cornerstone was laid on October 15, 1900 and the building was completed by April of the next year.

Although Eastman's contribution covered the expense of the land and physical building, it did not provide for the cost of the materials inside. Eastman originally pledged $200,000 for the project, but willingly paid more when this was insufficient (the project probably cost around $225,000 at the time). Still, in order to raise money for class equipment, the women of RAMI's Domestic Science department suggested hosting a slew of fundraisers in the building during its first week. Various events and exhibitions were scheduled, such as the annual exhibit of the Rochester Art Club; a Doll Show; a rummage sale; a "Museum of Wonders" that included exotic animals; and concerts by the 54th Regiment band.

In 1968, RAMI, now named the Rochester Institute of Technology, relocated to a new campus just outside the city of Rochester. No longer in use, the Eastman building was demolished in 1973.


3.85 Linear Feet (2 document boxes, 2 lid boxes)




Materials related to the Eastman Building of the Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute. The building was constructed in 1900 and financed by George Eastman. The collection contains materials from the building's official opening such as programs, miscellaneous ephemera, newspaper clippings, a scrapbook commemorating the event, and items originally encapsulated in the building's cornerstone. Also included are several items pertaining to the building and its operations from throughout the 20th century.


The first part of the collection is loosely arranged by series. Four copies of the official program for the building's opening ceremonies are house toward the front of the collection, followed by a folder of miscellaneous materials. There is also a folder of clippings and a separate box (Box 2) containing a large scrapbook and a book of meeting minutes.

The materials that were originally encapsulated in the building's cornerstone are at the end of the collection. Most materials are in Box 3, but the newspapers from the cornerstone are separated into Box 4.

Physical Location

C.S. South, Shelf 228 - Boxes 1-2

Other Finding Aids

In addition to this finding aid, a partial inventory is available below. For more information, please contact the RIT Archive Collections.

Eastman Building collection

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Lara Nicosia in November 2010.

Eastman Building collection
RIT Archives
Lara Nicosia
19 November 2010
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA