On Friday afternoon, several Hobart and William Smith alums took a step into the past and participated in the Historic Geneva Tour led by Barbara Lynch Springstead ’57, L.H.D. ’90. The excursion marked the 14th year that the event has been held in conjunction with Reunion weekend.
“I’ve seen Reunion celebrations grow so much over the years. It’s great that we can offer some local history to alums, especially in regards to College’s founder William Smith,” said Springstead. “It’s great to be a part of continuing that interest by offering this historical tour.”
On the tour, alums experienced a taste of life on a 19th-century estate when they visited the National Historic Landmark Rose Hill Mansion located in Fayette, overlooking Seneca Lake. At Rose Hill, alums explored the home’s spiral staircases, wide hallways, and expansive rooms. They also witnessed examples of agricultural tiling that were invented by Robert Swan, owner of the mansion from 1850-1890. Built in 1839, the mansion is considered one of the greatest examples of Greek Revival architecture in the United States.
The second stop was a guided tour of the Smith Observatory located on Castle Street in Geneva. Built by College’s founder and nurseryman William Smith in 1888, the Smith Observatory was where astronomer Dr. William R. Brooks discovered 16 comets. The observatory is a special landmark in New York, which houses a 10-inch Warner & Swasey refractor telescope, a four-inch transit telescope and a Gerry self-winding clock. The tour was led by observatory owner John B. Mulvey, who acquired the property in 1974 and has preserved the building and equipment, keeping it open to the public. Alums were fascinated as Mulvey demonstrated the crank that rotates the top of the observatory tower in order to point the telescope in any direction.
The final stop on the tour was a visit to the former home of William Smith at 600 Castle Street in Geneva. Now a bed and breakfast owned and operated by HWS Director of International Students David Gage ’91 and his wife, Theresa Gage, the William Smith Inn is an Italianate home, built in 1873, which features quarter-cut white oak floors with black walnut inlay, large chestnut doors, floor-to-ceiling windows and detailed molding.
Participant Nancy Karsten Iredale ’56 was glad she attended the outing. “Reunion gets more interesting every year. It’s nice to come back and see the history of Geneva.”
In the photo above, alums tour the Smith Observatory.