OSWEGO — The Oswego County Historical Society will host its annual meeting presentation at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 27, in the ballroom of the historic McCrobie Civic Center at 41 Lake St. in Oswego.
During a public meeting, president Mary Kay Stone will present a brief annual report of the many ongoing projects and accomplishments of the past year. Immediately following will be a special keynote presentation by Oswego County Historian and OCHS board trustee Justin White, titled “Honoring and Remembering the Remarkable Pioneers & Founders of the Oswego County Historical Society & Richardson-Bates House Museum.”
The Oswego County Historical Society was formed in 1896 by a group of prominent civic leaders of Oswego. This was shortly after a very successful and memorable centennial celebration week which honored the event of the “Evacuation of the British from Fort Ontario in 1796.” This recognized a legendary moment in American history when Oswego became fully free as a last territory in the country relinquished by the British, 13 years after the end of the American Revolution. This proudly remarked the first time the American flag was raised in Oswego at its military fort. Thereafter, the initial goal of the historical society was to promote, protect and preserve the history of Oswego County.
“The annual meeting is an important part of our organization. Anyone interested in preserving our local history is welcome to attend,” said Stone. “There is always so much that is accomplished every year and we look forward to sharing it with our members and the community. In addition, the keynote presentation on this remarkable legacy of our organization is going to be an exciting one.”
The event is being hosted by the city of Oswego at the historic McCrobie Civic Center. Listed on the National Register of Historic Place, the building was built by the Oswego Yacht Club and completed in 1919 just after World War I.
“Located right on the shores of Lake Ontario, the civic center will make the perfect setting for the annual meeting, as it is one of our local landmarks,” said White. “The original club members were among the founders of the historical society. It also has a beautiful view of the historic Oswego Harbor and the Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse,” added White. ”A special item from historical society collection connected to the popular days of Oswego yachting history will be on display.”
The most momentous moment for the historical society was the generosity of the fourth generation of the Richardson-Bates family. In 1946, the three surviving children of Norman and Florence (Morley) Bates, gifted their family’s historic residence to be the society’s permanent headquarters and serve as a public museum. This iconic Tuscan Villa landmark was commissioned in 1867 by Maxwell Richardson for him and his family. The unique example of this style of architecture was designed by architect Andrew Jackson Warner of Rochester. Richardson was a local attorney, successful real estate tycoon and two-term mayor of Oswego. The opulent interior décor reflects the 19th century Victorian fascination with art, culture, education and history. This remains part of the museum mission. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as one of the most intact house museums in New York state.
“The museum truly serves as the community memory bank,” said White. “It houses an incredible collection of artifacts, documents, manuscripts, photographs and more, that showcases the rich history Oswego County.” The program will highlight the impact the Richardson-Bates family and the founders of the very first historical and cultural organization and museum site in Oswego County.
“It is important for the board of trustees and membership to continue the legacy that was so special from the start,” added Stone. “We continue to strive to preserve this one of a kind place and make all visits a memorable one.”
The meeting is free and open to the public. Prospective members are also encouraged to attend to help the society continue to preserve the area’s rich local history. The yearly membership drive is in effect and membership forms will be available.
The Oswego County Historical Society is a non-profit organization founded in 1896 and dedicated to the preservation, promotion and interpretation of the historical resources of the county. The society owns and operates the Richardson-Bates House Museum at 135 E. Third St. in Oswego, a landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum will re-open for tours in July on Thursday through Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. by appointment. For more information visit the website at www.rbhousemuseum.org or contact the museum during regular hours at 315-343-1342.