Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion

Located in Canandaigua, NY, Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park sought to develop a design for a new visitor center and main entrance for the park on recently acquired properties adjacent to the park.

Built in 1887, the Victorian home and surrounding formal and informal gardens served as the summer home of Frederick Ferris and Mary Clark Thompson. Today the Gardens attract thousands of visitors to its grounds and is recognized as a destination in the Finger Lakes Region.

The acquisition of an adjacent vacant Army Reserve site, as well as an additional parcel, returns land once belonging to the estate to the park and allows for the expansion and improvement of the visitor experience. TWMLA developed circulation plans to accommodate the growing attraction and collaborated with the architects to design a new visitor center while using the history of the site as inspiration and historical context.

A new pedestrian entrance walkway provides a clear path from the parking lot to the new visitor center, immersing the user in gardens along the approach. The gardens also work as bioswales to accommodate stormwater runoff on site. Entry gardens and plaza adjacent to the visitor center welcome tour groups arriving in tour buses.

TWMLA developed a design that complements the programs of the new visitor center located in a rehabilitated Armoy building. Plazas adjacent to the building provide bistro style seating and gathering areas for tours and tram pick up. Proposed plantings recall the historic use of the site and include orchard trees and vegetable gardens, reminiscent of the production kitchen gardens that once existed in this area of the property.