Henrietta Campus Construction

The Decision to Move

In April 1959, New York State Department of Public Works informed RIT it was ninety-nine percent sure that it would need to construct an inner loop to connect to the New York State Thruway which would cut right through the middle of the downtown campus. This would lead to the destruction of the Eastman Building, one of the main academic buildings on campus. At the time, RIT had committed to expanding the downtown campus and had bought the Rochester Hotel and built the RItter-Clark Memorial gym. It had not yet occupied 50 W. Main St., but to stay downtown with the loss of its principal academic building was another matter. The Institute owned eighteen acres south of Broad St., however, that was not enough property for a new campus. The school also owned 120 acres in Pittsford, between Fairport and Linden Road.

Their other option was to build outside of the city between Rochester and Buffalo. A combination of factors led the Institute to decide that it would leave downtown. The city had plans for improving the Third Ward, yet they had not progressed very far or fast enough to persuade the Institute that renewal was about to take place. What gave the Board confidence that it could make the move and raise the money it would need to buy enough land for "a hundred years expansion" as long-time trustee James Gleason advised, was an unexpected, substantial gift left by a woman named Grace Watson. Finally, in 1961 after a great deal of debate, the Board voted in favor of moving the campus to a 1,300 acre piece of land in Henrietta, NY owned by Emil Muller, an RIT alumni.

Bevier Memorial Building, RIT's downtown campus
Billboard on Jefferson Rd. of the new campus plan
Graded site looking south
Quarter mile looking towards the gym and ice rink
Students show their support
The RIT community gathered for the announcement of the ...