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The Powers Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
This was the first building in Rochester with electricity and gas lighting.
In addition to the cast-iron facade, materials that went into this French Second Empire styled building include wrought iron beams from France, marble, granite, and free-stone.
Martha Matilda Harper (1857-1950), pioneer of the retail franchise concept in America and the first female member of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce, started her hair and skin care products business in the Powers Building in 1888. She built it from there into an international empire.
The building's design is typical of post-Civil War architecture with its Ohio sandstone facade, cast-iron decorations, dormer windows, belt courses, and mansard roofs.
When the original structure was completed in 1870 it was hailed as Rochester's first fireproof structure and the only building west of New York City equipped with elevators.
Both this building and the adjacent hotel were built by local banker and broker Daniel W. Powers (1818-97).
A major addition in 1891 added the tower, raising the height from 8 to 13 stories. This was done in competition with the neighboring Wilder Building for the title of tallest building in Rochester.
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