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Lunsford Circle

Written by Carol McAlister

Lunsford Park (home to the Corn Hill gazebo) was originally known as “Caledonia Square”, when laid out in 1837. The names of the streets off the circle, Edinburgh and Glasgow, reflected the interests of Scottish immigrants who settled in the “Caledonia Tract”, owned by John Greig in the 1830s. Clarissa Street, running north and south to the west in Corn Hill, was formerly named Caledonia Street, but renamed in 1844 as Clarissa Street, after Greig’s daughter, Clarissa.

Later the square was called “Plymouth Park” and was approached from the former Plymouth Avenue, which ran to the circle and continued south. This two-block-street began on Adams Street at the south end of Avery Mall (now Frederick Douglass Boulevard) and ended at the circle park.

During a ceremony in 1986, Mayor Thomas Ryan proclaimed Plymouth Circle Park, the “Dr. Charles Lunsford Circle Park,” in honor of Dr. Lunsford, one of Rochester’s first black physicians.

When downtown’s St. Joseph Church burned down, the Redemptorist Fathers offered a gazebo from its garden to the Corn Hill Neighbors. The gazebo was moved here in 1979 from its original site at the church. The restoration of this 1880s Queen Anne style gazebo, funding and relocation were projects of the Corn Hill Neighbors Association, made possible with funds earned by neighborhood volunteers who organized the annual Corn Hill Arts Festival.

Colonel Henry Cody, the engineer for the second Erie Canal aqueduct, built the Greek Revival style house located at the northwest corner of the park. The Immaculate Conception Catholic Church has been a landmark on the west of the circle since 1864. The Second Empire style house, south of the church, was constructed as a rectory in 1871. 47-57 Glasgow Street are the only surviving examples of 19th century brick row houses remaining in Corn Hill and were built in the 1880s by William Knight, a real estate promoter of that day.