The original Eastman building opened downtown in 1901 and was E-shaped in honor of George Eastman, its main benefactor.
In 1959, RIT was informed that New York State would most likely need to demolish the Eastman building, which was one of the main academic buildings, to ease traffic conditions downtown. The construction of the Inner Loop and other factors positioned moving outside of the downtown area as a favorable alternative for the institute.
At the time, RIT owned a few bits of land for expansion purposes, but none were nearly big enough to house a new campus. After receiving a large donation from Grace Watson, however, the board of trustees felt comfortable enough with RIT’s capacity to raise funds towards the institute’s growth that in 1961, they voted in favor of moving to Henrietta.
The Eastman building as we know it was one of the first structures erected on the Henrietta campus.