Lilac could easily be considered the fragrance of Rochester…but for many years a variety of scents filled the Flower City air via a perfume factory on Capron Street.
In 1856, Chauncey B Woodworth, an Irondequoit farmer and saw mill owner, purchased of all things, a fledgling perfume business. With the help of his sons, Woodworth soon turned the unique enterprise into a thriving family business. By the turn of the century their “imperishable perfumes, triple extracts and toilet preparations” were known well beyond the Rochester city limits.
The company’s product line continued to grow through the 1920’s. One of their most significant products were their face powders that were sold in attractive custom made metal tins.
After establishing a presence in Europe, the company caught the attention Pierre and Paul Wertheimer who owned the french perfume house Bourjois as well as the perfume lines of Chanel. In 1929 the Wertheimer’s purchased Woodworth’s and merged their operations into Bourjois. For the next 45 years Bourjois would manufacture products for the American market in their Rochester facility.
One of their best known perfumes produced in Rochester was Evening in Paris which was a fragrance created by Ernest Beaux, the creator of Chanel No. 5.
Sadly, in 1974 during a period of reorganization in the perfume and cosmetics industry, the Rochester facility was closed. In 1975 the Bourjois factory on Capron St. was torn down and is today a parking lot.
Some have said the air on summer nights near the old factory location still possesses the aroma of an evening in Paris.