The George Eastman House in Rochester is the former home of the founder of Kodak. George Eastman was an entrepreneur, philanthropist and the pioneer of popular photography and motion picture film. He was born in 1854 in Waterville, New York. The family moved to Rochester in 1860 but his father died two years later, leaving them penniless. George Eastman left school at age 14 to support his mother and two sisters. He first worked at a local insurance company and then as a junior clerk by the Rochester Savings Bank.

In the late 1920s Eastman found out he had a progressive and irreversible spinal disease so he shot himself in the head. In a note to friends, he wrote, “My work is done. Why wait?” Read about the rest of his life on the Eastman site.

The Eastman House of Horrors

One of the main attractions in Rochester is his house in a former leafy suburb. I have learned quite a lot about him in the house, for example that he was a megalomaniac and micro manager. He had his own organ with hundreds of pipes, which his private organist played in the morning for breakfast. He also enjoyed travelling to Africa to shoot now endangered or extinct animals, such as the white rhino. His office desk was covered with white rhino’s skin, which he shot himself. There were also paintings of the other animals he killed on his hunting tours.

I imagine his pride and joy were the elephant and antelope, whose legs he stuffed and used as vases and ashtrays. In his breakfast room he had the stuffed head of an elephant above his table. Watch the video below to see what his house was like.

After Eastman’s house I drove around Rochester but it was so windy and cold I didn’t want to get out of the car. Instead, I drove up north to the shore of Lake Ontario. This is one of the five great lakes and really is massive. The waves were as big as the ocean and people were surfing on it. The plan was to drive along the coast but the bridge was closed so I had to drive along the Eire canal to Syracuse.

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