Historic Carriage Returns to Rochester

By: Amy Cavalier, Communications/Development Coordinator

Carriage for the blog

Thousands of miles, several movie appearances and more than 140 years after leaving the Cunningham Carriage Factory on Litchfield Street in Rochester, New York, a late-19th century brougham-style carriage returned home on Tuesday, September 30.

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After sitting vacant for 25 years, DePaul is getting ready to re-open the doors of the former Cunningham Carriage Factory as 71 mid-market loft apartments, to be called the DePaul Carriage Factory Apartments.

Motor assembly at the Cunningham Carriage Factory circa 1920
Motor assembly at the Cunningham Carriage Factory circa 1920. From the families of Peter, Joan and Michael Cunningham

Much has changed since James Cunningham and his sons used the factory to produce carriages, and later, motor vehicles, ambulances and even plane motors. At the centerpiece of the restoration project will be the original Cunningham carriage purchased from John Greenall of the Greenall Carriage House of Windsor, Vermont who has owned the luxury carriage for 40 years.

“I couldn’t believe he had it and was willing to sell it and capable of transporting it,” said Vice President of DePaul Properties, Inc. Gillian Conde. “Everything lined up. It was like it was just meant to come back.”

A liDSCN8203ght, four-wheeled, horse-drawn drop-front coupe carriage often used to transport the family in a funeral procession, the carriage has more recently appeared in the movie The Bostonian with Christopher Reeve in the drivers’ seat, and it was also in the six-part television series The Buccaneers, based on a novel by Edith Wharton. Greenall also lent it out for historical documentaries filmed while he lived in Pennsylvania, as well as for weddings.

Greenall discovered the carriage in a friend’s chicken coop in Connecticut over 40 years ago. It needed work, but it was sound and the interior upholstery was practically like-new.

In restoring the vehicle, Greenall said he maintained the original windows and the interior is ornate with pom-pom tufting and decorative edges on the upholstery, hubcaps etched with the Cunningham moniker, ivory knobs and even a spot in the door for a calling card. The exterior of the carriage has been repainted and restriped. As to who owned the brougham carriage before Greenall, he said, the Cunningham company did not keep records for original sales.

Carriage comparison

“I am so happy a group that cares like DePaul will truly appreciate this piece of history,” he said. “This vehicle was one from my personal collection. It was one of the first I ever acquired, so to have them go to good homes where they’ll be appreciated is very important to me.”

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