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New Gibson Street entrance now open at Sonnenberg Gardens

A new gateway entrance at Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park is now open, announced NYS Parks on Monday.

The park’s new Gibson Street entrance is marked by stone columns off Route 21 in Canandaigua. The entry point improvements provide more visibility for the site and a direct link to the Thruway, according to a Monday, July 25 release.

Sonnenberg Gardens gets $25,000 grant for on-site upgrades
Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Gibson Street gateway first step in $6.1 million improvement project at Sonnenberg

The $1.1 million gateway project is the first phase of a $6.1 million, multi-year effort by State Parks and Friends of Sonnenberg to convert a form U.S. Army Reserve armory into a new visitors’ center, cafe and education space. Improvements to parking were also made, said State Parks in a statement.

“The new entrance boulevard leads to a bus turnaround and diverts traffic from an adjoining residential street, helping improve the neighborhood’s quality of life,” continued the agency.

The project also expanded parking, improved pathways and added a new entrance garden and trees.

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Sonnenberg project supported by state grants and private donations

The Sonnenberg project is made possible by $1 million in state grants and over $300,000 fundraised by not-for-profit Friends of Sonnenberg, the organization that operates the historic site.

“With its 19th century Victorian mansion, gardens, and greenhouse complex, Sonnenberg is one of only two formal gardens owned by State Parks. With the community support of our partners at Friends of Sonnenberg, the new gateway and planned new visitor center will make a visit to this unique [and] even better experience,” offered Commissioner of NYS Parks Erik Kulleseid.

The state acquired the property back in 2006 and later purchased the 1.6 acres at Charlotte and Gibson Streets. The U.S. Army donated the 3.5-acre armory parcel to State Parks, according to the release.

Improvement projects to benefit Finger Lakes economy

“The new entrance and the existing buildings have created 70 new paved parking spaces for our visitors, new admissions for our Bus Tours and day use visitors,” said Friends of Sonnenberg Executive Director David Hutchings.

“In the future we will create a Visitor/ Educational center to grow the vitality and the economics not just for Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion but also the Canandaigua Community and the Finger Lake region. Today we are the number one summer attraction in Ontario County and over the peak of Covid-19 we hosted over 50,000 visitors to provide some outdoor recreation in our community.”

Donations made to the Friends of Sonnenberg campaign include Elmira Savings & Loan ($49,000), Canandaigua Rotary Club ($12,000), and Lyons National Bank ($10,000), and two anonymous donors totaling $160,000.

Related: Sonnenberg will get $500,000 more for Gibson St. entrance