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Historical Location

Name: Seneca Hotel

Category: Hotel

Size: 7 stories, 300 guest rooms

Condition: Quite good, only a decade old

Inhabitants: Visitors to the city, local and national conventions

Map Location: Clinton Avenue (F2)

Description (ca. 1921):

Built on the former site of the First Universalist Church, the Seneca Hotel, pictured here in 1947, was a product of the early 20th century.

The century’s first decade saw Rochester’s population climb to 175,000 residents. Not only had the city’s growth created the need for more hotels, but the relocation of the New York Central railroad station from Mill Street to St Paul Street spurred the development of businesses on the city’s East side.

Addressing these demographic and geographic trends, the Seneca took up residence at 26 South Clinton Avenue on September 14 1908, just in time for the New York State Democratic convention of that year. The hotel would go on to host a number of the Party’s functions as well as some of its leading politicians such as JFK and Lyndon Johnson.

While the Seneca’s sizeable meeting space made it a prime destination for local and national conventions alike, the 7-story brown brick building also housed fine dining establishments and 300 guest rooms. Each room came equipped with a private bath, an unprecedented hotel-wide feature in Rochester at the time.

By the 1920s, the modern amenities of newer hotels such as the Cadillac began to upstage Rochester’s older hoteliers. The Seneca combated this competition by constructing a 14-story addition. The reconstruction, which increased the Seneca’s accommodation space to 502 rooms, made the Renaissance-style building the largest hotel in the city.