1890 House: Cortland, NY

I took a jaunt up to Cortland, NY to visit the 1890 House; an old mansion built by a 19th century industrialist who made his fortune with reasonably priced wire goods. Yes, wire….and his last name happened to be “Wickwire”.

The house had alllll the bells and whistles that was expected of the latest technology. Indoor plumbing, electricity and central heating were all present in the wonderfully decorated Gilded-Age home when it was completed in 1890. The 4 story mansion stayed in the family until 1973, when it was then purchased by the Landmark Society of Cortland County and opened to the public as The 1890 House Museum and Center for the Victorian Arts.

Today, it’s a capsule of what life was like during the progressive Gilded-Age and sends you right back to when Chester and Ardel Wickwire were at the height of the good life…and offers an interesting perspective of what it was like being small town elite.

Sunroom Skylight
Sunroom Skylight

Family photos and ephemera

Play Room
Child’s playroom in the attic

When I visit spots like this, I always take a moment to imagine what living in that home would be like if I were to travel back in time. I got lost in the though while standing in the divine sun room, day dreaming about a lazy morning where a footman would bring me the day’s correspondence and calling requests while I enjoyed some broiled quail on toast.

It’s a good time to visit now, as they have recruited local businesses to outfit the multiple rooms in Christmas cheer. As for local lore? It’s said that the place is haunted, although I didn’t feel any heebie jeebies exploring every nook from the basement to the attic.

Small Details
Small Details
Butler's Pantry Sink
Butler’s Pantry Sink

Tip: Don’t skip the attic! It boasts a wonderful view of the area, as well as an expansive leisure area that display games and diversions.  

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