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Clock Is Ticking On Oswego Historic Landmark

OSWEGO, NY – It’s more than just a pretty house on East Third Street.

And, the Oswego County Historical Society is spearheading a drive keep it that way.

The Richardson-Bates House Museum, one of the Port City's premier museums and local archive repository.
The Richardson-Bates House Museum, one of the Port City's premier museums and local archive repository.

Over the years, for a variety or reasons, funding for the Richardson-Bates House Museum, one of the Port City’s premier museums and local archive repository, has continued to dry up. It is now at the critical stage.

Due to insufficient funds, the museum may be forced to shut down, according to Peg McKinstry, president of the board for the Historical Society.

“Basically, there is enough money to keep it open until the end of this month,” she said.

The ideal goal would be to have the NYS Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation take over the historic Oswego site.

While they are trying to work out those arrangements, the museum must still be maintained and made available for those doing research and others.

One option would be to take out a loan; but that is contingent on their ability to pay it back, McKinstry, admits.

“We’re expanding our membership and planning fundraisers. We’re doing everything we possibly can,” she said. “It’s more than just a pretty house on East Third Street in Oswego; there is a lot more to it. It’s home to the Oswego County Historical Society and much resource materials and records. So many people have give items to the museum for its collection, important things to their families and we’ve promised to take care of them. If that closes down, who knows what’s going to happen to all of that.”

At one point, there were 13 people working there. Now it is down to 1 and a half and a couple of volunteers, that’s it, McKinstry said, adding, “It’s a very scary situation.”

The day-to-day operations at the Richardson-Bates House are going on as usual, according to Terry Prior, director.

“In the background, we’re meeting with reps from State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Sen. (Darrell) Aubertine, and Phil Church (county administrator) and others to see what we can do to keep the facility going,” he said.

The financial situation is “tenuous,” but everyone is staying positive, he said.

“Our community has just been phenomenonal,” he said. “So many people have stepped up to do what they can to help. It’s really amazing.”

“We’ve had wonderful calls from all the other non-profits, offering to do what they can to help. But everybody is feeling the budget pinch these days,” McKinstry said.

“We have had discussions about a lot of stuff,” Prior said. “We’ll just have to see what floats and what sinks.”