“I find when I bring people here, I’ll get a parent who will be like, ‘what’s that?’ and we’ll go into a 20-minute conversation about the history of the house,” said Kate Wilcox-Rodwell, who owns a newly renovated mansion in Pavilion called The Hillcrest Estate.
Twenty minutes may just scratch the surface of the history of mansion, which sits on 120 acres at 1940 Craig Road.
It was built in the late 1800s in the Country Place Era, a time according to The Cultural Landscape Foundation, in which large, opulent residences were built by affluent families in pastoral settings, often serving as getaways from city life during the warmer months of the year.
The Hillcrest Estate has welcomed notable guests like President Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain and Ethel Barrymore.
And for nearly four decades it has stayed in the Wilcox family, which has hosted many private events for friends and family.
Kate Wilcox-Rodwell (inset photo below) grew up there and last year she and her husband, Matthew Rodwell, moved to the property to devote themselves to extensively restoring it.
The 32-room mansion is spacious at 9,500 square feet. It features 11 bedrooms, a grand ballroom, stone fireplaces and its original wooden floors. Historic antiques are showcased with natural lighting, bookshelves, flower arrangements and vintage furniture.
The estate’s grounds are groomed and landscaped, but they still feel walkable and casual. The secluded property has a reflecting pool, covered veranda, tiered terraces and various locations suitable for photography like the woods.
“There’s a lot of unique character here that you can’t get in a brand-new facility,” said Wilcox-Rodwell. “You can’t get authentic character everywhere, but you can here.”
The ballroom and lawns are available for weddings, bridal parties, corporate meetings, small and large social gatherings and community events. The ballroom can accommodate 120 guests, and the outdoor reception tent can host approximately 300 guests.
“One of the things I love about this place is there’s just the flexibility and different areas to choose from. You’re not subject to one spot for one thing,” Wilcox-Rodwell said.
In May, the estate received a grant from The Landmark Society of Western New York Preservation Grant Fund Committee. This grant funds architectural improvements to buildings throughout the region. Wilcox-Rodwell put the $2,000 award toward a building permit to develop the estate into an event venue.
Upgrades to the estate include new landscaping, roofing, masonry work and an ADA-accessible ramp. To use the space to its fullest potential, the owners are renovating the restrooms, foyer and bridal lounge. Remodeled bedrooms will be available for rent so guests can use the estate for events and housing year-round.
The Hillcrest Estate recently joined the Chamber of Commerce in Genesee and Livingston counties to enhance its business culture and grow closer to the community.
“I have to commend both of the chambers because they have been great — resources and spreading the word about what we are trying to do — can’t thank them enough for that,” Wilcox-Rodwell said.
“They can really connect you with other individuals who share similar values because they’ve got businesses in their respective counties that want to grow and thrive and connect with other business owners.”
The owners plan to also support charitable causes with their event space going forward. In September, The Hillcrest Estate will host the Town of York Historical Society to celebrate the town’s bicentennial.
Wilcox-Rodwell describes a rewarding part of owning the mansion as “being able to share this property with other people … who live five minutes from here that don’t know that there’s this amazing house in their backyard that has all this history that 100 years ago was a big part of their town. I’m excited to share it.”
To contact The Hillcrest Estate, phone (585) 356-7164 or visit online here.