Heritage Foundation of Oswego County Sets 39th Annual House Tour

Oswego — The 39th Annual House Tour sponsored by the Heritage Foundation of Oswego County will be held Sunday, September 25 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the city of Oswego. This year’s tour will feature five historic sites. Advance tickets are available now at the River’s End Bookstore at 19 West Bridge Street in Oswego and through the day of the tour.

The annual house tour fund-raiser has featured historic properties throughout the county for more than three decades. “Over the years, the tour has showcased historic preservation in action,” said Justin White, board trustee for the Heritage Foundation. “This event offers the community an opportunity to view in person the wonderful variety of private and public landmarks that make our communities unique and special.

”The Heritage Foundation’s goal of protecting local landmarks is reflected in the extraordinary efforts of all the property owners, both public and private, to preserve the historical integrity of their properties.

“A unique theme is presented this year, which celebrates the architecture of Claude Bragdon,” said White. “Two the beautiful landmark residences featured this year were designed by him.”

Bragdon spent his teenage years in Oswego as his father George was the editor of the Oswego Daily Times in the 1880s. In his memoir “More Lives than One,” he remembered his years in Oswego vividly. He was the valedictorian of the Oswego High School in 1884.

The Gardella residence at 44 West Fifth Street was designed by Bragdon in 1895 for the Sloan family. This Georgian Revival style residence is one of the stately homes in the Franklin Square Historic District, and represents the prosperity of the city in the late 19th century. The current homeowners have made many renovations inside and out to restore the original character of the home.

A few years later in 1898, Bragdon designed the Moreau residence at 40 West Oneida Street for the Higgins family. This is another exceptional Georgian Revival style residence that again reflects the growth of business in the local industry during this period. The original homeowners were John and Virginia Kingsford Higgins. Virginia was the granddaughter of Thomas Kingsford, founder of the Oswego Starch Factory. Bragdon worked with the Kingsford family on several projects, including buildings at their farm estate. Many improvements have been made by the owners in keeping with historic elements.

A special feature for this tour will be a presentation entitled “Architect Claude Bragdon: More Lives than One,” which will be presented by Andrea Reithmayr the Curator of Collections in the Rare Books & Special Collections Department at the University of Rochester. Ms Reithmayr will speak in the ballroom of the McCrobie Civic Center at 41 Lake Street at 4 pm. Tour participants are encouraged to learn more about Bragdon after viewing his designs in person. This will also offer an opportunity to see the progress of the renovations that have taken place this year at the civic center.

“We are pleased to have Ms. Reithmayr visit to give presentation. It is particularly significant that it will be at the civic center, since Bragdon was the architect of the middle portion of the building that was built for the Oswego Yacht Club and opened in 1919. The two wings were added later to his original design when it was the naval militia,” said White.

Among the other features of this year’s tour is the Lofts at Canal Commons at 193 West First Street in Oswego. Many noticeable renovations have occurred to this historic downtown building, with new windows and doors on the upper level facing West Bridge Street.

Local businessman Tony Pauldine has transformed the second and third stories of this building into eleven loft apartments. Six of these will be open for the first time ever to the public, including the first newly occupied loft of the Bateman family.

The Beacon Hotel is another significant historic property that has been transformed into a boutique hotel, featuring eleven beautifully appointed guest rooms. This recently opened hotel will be opened to the public. Owners Atom and Falecia Avery made every effort to rehabilitate and renovate this historic building with special care to maintain the historic integrity.

“The lofts and the hotel will be a special treat for tour participants, and will showcase the investment of local business owners that are dedicated to making our community a great place to live,” added White.

The Richardson-Bates House Museum has also been included in this year’s tour. The museum is the headquarters of the Oswego County Historical Society and is also one of the city’s most important architectural landmarks. The house also has a connection to Claude Bragdon, who was a childhood friend of Norman Bates.

“Claude was a good friend of Norman Bates who grew up in the Richardson-Bates House. Norman later inherited the house and lived there with his family. His children donated the house to the historical society in 1946,” said White. Currently the museum has an exhibit featuring the history of the Oswego Starch Factory and the Kingsford family.

In addition, this year’s tour features a luncheon to be held at Steamers Bar & Grill at 70 East First Street in Oswego. The luncheon will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., preceding the start of the house tour. This will be an opportunity for tour participants to enjoy a special dining experience overlooking the Oswego River. The specially prepared menu will contain several lunch options.

Regular tickets for the house tour are $15.00, while the tour and luncheon tickets are $25.00. Advance tickets are on sale now and will also be available for sale the day of the tour at the River’s End Bookstore at 19 West Bridge St. in Oswego. All proceeds from the event will promote historic preservation projects in the county.

The Heritage Foundation is dedicated to the preservation, promotion and protection of the historic, architectural and  environmental resources in Oswego County. For more information about the tour call the Heritage Foundation office at 342-3354.

1 Comment

  1. This is an annual event that my family has enjoyed for two decades! Thanks to all who have made another Sunday afternoon possible. We know this requires not only coordination by numerous committee members, but also the owners who open their homes/new construction to us. I know many people say thank you to them on their way out of these buildings, but I’m just saying thank you for all the years gone by as well. This year a guest lecturer just adds to the fun for those of us local architectural history buffs. I love the old yacht club, and when standing alone in the great hall, I can almost hear all the different voices whispering through history who have stood in the same place. I can even hear my younger self who worked for the City of Oswego in the same building thirty odd years ago, lol. That is the beauty of living in a close-knit community like our own.

    For those who have never gone, what an opportunity to experience Oswego in times gone by, but also an insider view of the future ‘historical’ buildings of Oswego, too. Makes for a lovely annual Fall event!

    Thank you, Justin, and everyone else affiliated with this endeavor!
    Can’t wait!!!


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