Quarry Hill Park was originally a part of the former Rochester State Hospital farm and was purchased from the state by the City of Rochester in 1965. Quarry Hill Nature Center was built in 1972 with funds and labor donated by area residents and businesses. The Nature Center opened in 1973 as a cooperative effort between the Rochester Park Department and the Rochester Public School District. In September 1990, work was completed on a major addition to the existing nature center, effectively tripling the main floor area and enabling Quarry Hill to meet the increasing needs of both the general public and school groups. In September 1999, a second major addition was completed adding another classroom, multi-purpose room, and bird observation room. Since 1999, smaller building additions and renovations, new programs and exhibits, as well as outside trail work and habitat restoration has further solidified Quarry Hill's place as a premier environmental learning destination.
The cave was carved to serve as a cellar for the storage of many vegetables grown on the State Hospital farm. A crew of six men from the State Hospital dug the series of caves out of St. Peter sandstone. One of the patients, a man by the name of Thomas Coyne, led this crew. Coyne was a poet, as evidenced by the lines of poetry he carved into the walls of the cave. Coyne's name and a few remaining words of his poem can still be seen today on the wall of the middle entrance just before the first storage room.