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About the Inn

“For years I have devoted my whole thought, strength, and energy to one thing -business, and have made myself master of that which I undertook to perform. I mean now to cultivate most assiduously the social ties which I have neglected so long fearing they may have become so weakened as to have no influence on my soul.”

William P. Letchworth

William P. Letchworth was looking for the perfect site for a country retreat where he could entertain his family and friends. One morning in the spring of 1858 he stepped off a train as it slowly approached a bridge high above the Genesee River. Standing on the bridge, he was touched by the natural beauty of the powerful river rushing below. Gazing at the falls, he noticed that the sun shining on the spray below formed a perfect rainbow.

While walking along the left bank of the river, Letchworth found a large two-story frame house located near the remains of the a burned-out lumber mill. Owned by Michael Smith, the house had been built by Alva Palmer in 1828. The view was spectacular, and as he gazed toward the South overlooking the falls, he knew he had found his country retreat.

Letchworth acquired the house in February, 1859 and immediately began renovations. The local Indians had named the area “An-de-ka-ga-kwa”, meaning “the place where the sun lingers”, and it has been said through Indian lore that when the sun passes over the glen it pauses a moment longer there than at any other part of the valley. Inspired by this, Letchworth chose the word “Iris”, a synonym for “rainbow”, and named his estate the Glen Iris.

As he studied the history of the Genesee Valley Letchworth became particularly interested in the life story of Mary Jemison, the captured child of a massacred white settlers raised by local Indians. “The White Woman of the Genesee” had at one time lived several miles north of the Lower Falls, and in an effort to preserve her heritage, Letchworth had her remains interred on the Council House grounds, now part of his estate.

William Pryor Letchworth was born in 1823 to a Quaker Family of high standing. As a humanitarian and historian, his desire was to have the Glen Iris, with its scenic grandeur, preserved in its natural state so future generations could enjoy the beauty so dear to his heart. Before his death on December 12, 1910, he made provisions for the Glen Iris and surrounding property to be a gift to the people of New York State to be used as a permanent park.

In 1914 the American Society provided funds to enlarge the dining room at the Glen Iris and to add twelve new guests rooms and four bathrooms. It had been a tradition that Letchworth’s guests at the Glen Iris plant a tree to commemorate their visit. Inspired by the tradition, the American Society named the new rooms after the trees that had been so lovingly planted by those long-ago visitors.

The first innkeepers, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Baeder, began managing the Glen Iris in 1914. They were followed by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Beardsley, Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Davis, Ms. Eileen Curry, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Pizzutelli, Mr. Michael Herzich, Mrs. Maureen Tillotson, and currently, Denise Coffey.

The staff of the Glen Iris wishes to welcome you to Letchworth State Park and will endeavor to make your visit a memorable occasion.

The Area

The Glen Iris Inn is nestled in the heart of Letchworth State Park. The surrounding communities offer a wide range of activities, shopping and events all year round. Here’s just a few places we hope you find interesting, but don’t be afraid to explore, there’s many more?

Arts Council Gallery

Rotating exhibits, Open all year M-F 9-5pm
31 South Main St.
Perry, NY 14530
(585) 237-3517

The Park

Letchworth State Park, with some of the most magnificent scenery in the United States, comprises 14,350 acres along the Genesee River. Within the park, the river roars over three major waterfalls, one of which is 107 feet high! The cliffs, created by the river’s path over thousands of years, approach 600 feet.

A multi-faceted park, Letchworth offers opportunities for a wide variety of interests. Millions of years of geological history can be observed in the rock formations exposed by erosion. The region’s rich heritage of the Seneca Indians is well documented in the park with displays, a restored Seneca Council House and the grave of Mary Jemison.

Swimming pool, fishing areas, hiking trails, hot air ballooning, whitewater rafting and canoeing by permit are just some of the additional attractions at Letchworth.

A full schedule of events is offered each year within the park. They range from concerts to lectures to guided walks.

Letchworth State Park is the largest and most diverse park of nine state facilities in the Genessee State Park and Recreation Region, one of eleven park regions administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation.

Letchworth State Park has many activities to offer for both outdoors and indoors. Here’s a just a few of the favorite activities found in and around the park.

Balloons Over Letchworth

About the pilot: As a ten year old, Sean Quigley read about the newly invented hot air balloon in Popular Mechanics Magazine. He decided then, that was what he wanted to do. In 1987 Quigley fulfilled a lifelong dream when he purchased his first balloon. An F.A.A. licensed commercial pilot, he has logged over 1250 accident free hours. He has flown in festivals and races from Florida to Quebec as well as a world cup race in France. He has piloted his balloon over the brim of Niagara Falls several times and once flew a 114 mile distance race placing him 9th in the U.S. In 1993 he began flying from Letchworth Park and made his hobby a full time profession. He has been the subject of many television and newspaper stories in the Rochester and Buffalo areas.

Adventure Calls Rafting

Western New York’s Premier River Runners. White water rafting and canoeing at Letchworth State Park.
P.O. Box 391
LeRoy, NY 14482

Wyoming County Chamber & Tourism
6470 Route 20A – Suite 6
Perry, NY 14530

Make your visit a memorable occasion.

Guestrooms and suites available now for booking at the Glen Iris Inn. Book your stay, today!