The Rose Hill Mansion and the Mike Weaver Drain Tile Museum at the Johnston Farm will close for the 2003 season on Oct. 31. Administered by the Geneva Historical Society, these properties help to tell the story of the social and agricultural development of Geneva and the Finger Lakes Region in the early 19th century. A National Historic Landmark, Rose Hill Mansion and its Empire furnishings exemplify the Greek Revival style and illustrate the lifestyle of the well-to-do families who settled the area.
The first person to build a house at Rose Hill farm was Robert Seldon Rose. Rose built a two-story frame house, which is now used as the Rose Hill visitor center. After Rose’s death in 1835, New York City wool merchant William K. Strong purchased the property and built the present Greek Revival house in 1839. The Strong family left Rose Hill for New York City upon the death of Mrs. Strong in 1843.
The next owner, Robert J. Swan, helped the farm to achieve its greatest success. Learning about the benefits of tile drainage from his neighbor and father-in-law, John Johnston, Swan laid almost sixty-one miles of tile to drain the swampy land and quadrupled wheat production. The Swan family remained in residence until 1890. The Geneva Historical Society acquired the property in 1965 due to the generosity of Waldo Hutchins, Jr., who also funded the work of restoration in memory of his mother, Agnes Swan Hutchins.
The Mike Weaver Drain Tile Museum was opened in 1994 when the Geneva Historical Society completed restoration of the Johnston Farm House, located just south of Rose Hill on 96A. The museum houses some of the Johnston family furnishings and the drain tile collection of Mike Weaver. The museum pays tribute to the evolution of drain tile technology in the United States, as well as to John Johnston, the innovative gentleman who first brought it to his farm in Seneca County in 1835.
Rose Hill is open for tours 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and children 10 to 18. Children 9 and under are free. The Johnston Farm is open by request. The Rose Hill Gift Shop End-of-Season sale runs from Sunday, Oct. 26, to Friday, Oct. 31. All stock is 40 percent off. For further information about the museum or the shop, call 789-3848.