Thursday, June 26, 2014

Herman Ten Eyck Foster, Part 3

By Alice Askins, Education Coordinator at Rose Hill

At the end of December 1843 Herman Foster became engaged to Pauline Lentilhon.  Pauline may have been related to the Smiths who appear so often in Herman’s diary.  We first hear of Pauline when Augustus Smith was reading a letter from her in the cutter that spills Herman, Augustus, and William into a snow bank.  After they were engaged, Pauline wrote to Herman frequently.  He probably wrote back, but he does not mention that in his diary.  In April 1844, Pauline came to stay with the Smiths, escorted by Charles Owen of the farm where Herman learned his profession.  I don’t know how it came about that Charles assisted Pauline on her journey; if he happened to be in her home city of New York at the right time, she might have asked him to escort her as an acquaintance of her future husband.  Women seem not to have traveled on their own.  As a married man, a Quaker, and a friend of Herman’s, Charles would have been an eligible protector.  Mrs. Smith, probably William and Augustus’s mother, was staying at the boys’ farm, and her presence would have made it acceptable for Pauline to stay there.  On Sunday, April 5, Herman wrote After dinner I rode over to Canoga and had the pleasure of once more seeing P.”

Every weekend through the summer he rode over to Canoga.  On May 29 he wrote, “Afternoon the Boys, Mrs. Smith and Pauline came over and took tea.”  In August, Herman mentioned that he took Pauline home to Canoga; she must have come to visit, perhaps to see the work on the farm.  During this period Herman continued to improve the place.  He brought a washing machine over from Geneva, and built an ice house.  On September 16, Herman went to Canoga and “helped them get off” – apparently Pauline and some traveling companion(s) had started back to New York.  On September 25, Herman followed.  On Thursday October 17 he wrote, “We reached home in the evening.”  “We” seems to mean Herman and Pauline, were Snow married.

Pauline and Herman's washing machine may have been this kind of device. 

Over the next few days, Herman wrote about unpacking furniture and fixing window blinds.  “Thomas [a hired man?] came over to boys, took back a wad of Pauline's things.” She must have left them there from her summer visit.  Meanwhile, the social niceties were being observed – “23rd Wednesday. Great many persons have called on Pauline.  26th Saturday. I went in [to Geneva] and took Pauline – first time she ever was there. Called on Mrs. Clarke, Mrs. Bogert & Grosvenor.”

By November, after various references to lead pipes in dirt-filled boxes, and to forcing pumps, “At last the water runs as it ought to do – to our great joy.”  At the end of the month, the boys brought over a piano.  That must have made the house really feel like home for Herman, who had to have music.  There are two later diary entries that Herman even brought in a piano tuner. 

“December 25th Wednesday. Christmas day. . . Went to Seneca falls in morning in sleigh. . . Got some ice and made ice cream. Fired pistols at mark. Had grand supper in evening. . . .

26th Thursday. Fired pistols all day long, very much to P's chagrin.  She fussed in kitchen.

30th Monday.  P fussed in kitchen all day, making cake, etc., in anticipation of New Year.”  New Year’s Day was often devoted to visiting.

On November 4, 1845, “Pauline gave birth to a fine daughter at 6 minutes past ten P.M.”  This was the first of three children (two daughters and a son).  Sadly, Pauline died four and a half years after she married Herman.  Robert Swan of Rose Hill mentions Herman in his own journal, and says once that he went to visit Herman because it was his (Herman’s) wedding day.  We assume that he needed company on his anniversary.  He never remarry.  After an accident with a 500-pound block of ice Herman himself died in 1869.  His leg was broken and a large blood clot was found in his windpipe and another in a lung after he died. 

Ice Cutting.  You can see why you would not want a block of ice to fall on your leg.

The Geneva Gazette said “Mr. Foster was a positive man – there was nothing negative in his character.”  A former president of the New York State Agricultural Society, A. B. Conger, noted that Herman won farming awards from the county and state societies, and established and ran a Sunday School for the poorer families in his area.  His diaries give us a strong impression of a lively man with a sense of humor.   I tend to forget his social position, but one of his daughters married Henry Algernon DuPont and lived at Winterthur in Delaware.  That is why Winterthur owns his diaries, and again we are indebted to them for sending us the transcripts.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Geneva Downtown Commercial Historic District

By John Marks, Curator of Collections and Exhibits

About 18 months ago I wrote about the details of national, state, and local historic preservation programs. They bear revisiting in the wake of the National Register of Historic Places approving the Geneva Downtown Commercial Historic District.
The district includes most of traditional downtown, the rectangle formed by Seneca, Exchange, Castle, and Main Streets. Linden Street is included, as are the Exchange Street buildings just north of Castle Street and just south of Seneca Street. The three late-1960s bank buildings on Exchange Street and the Rite Aid drugstore on the corner of Castle and Main Streets are excluded from the district.

 Several downtown buildings, such as this bank on Linden Street and the Smith Opera House on Seneca Street, are already on the National Register.

More websites and newspaper articles, including the Finger Lakes Times, are doing a good job dispelling myths about preservation designations. A National Register listing doesn’t restrict the owner; in fact, properties can’t be listed without the owner’s consent. As long as no federal government money is involved, a Nation Register property owner can demolish their property if they wishes. (Local preservation ordinances, zoning, and demolition permits are another story.)

A National Register listing doesn’t come with free money to preserve the building.  Owners of income-producing properties are eligible for a 20% federal income tax credit, with numerous qualifications. Any preservation work, inside or out, must meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and be approved by the National Park Service. The Standards require methods and materials which, while in the best interests of preservation, may be more expensive. Then, the cost of approved work must exceed the “adjusted basis value” – building value minus land value equals the adjusted value. Finally, you may claim 20% of approved costs...on the next income tax you file.

As my dad says, this beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but its complicated money. It’s not cash-in-hand as work is being done. It requires extensive paperwork and approval by preservation representatives. Depending on the adjusted value of your property, the credit may only work for large scale, whole-building projects; it probably would not apply to simply restoring windows and doors to their original appearance.

New York State offers an additional 20% credit on projects that are receiving federal credit…if the building is in an “eligible census tract” and certain fees are paid. If you read in an article that up to 40% income tax credit may be available for preservation, this is what it means.

The Fairfax, Almarco, and Oddfellows Buildings are all under consideration for rehabilitation.

So why does the National Register listing matter if there are financial hoops and paperwork? It matters for large-investment projects, of which there are several on the drawing board for downtown. Property owners were invited to a 2013 meeting and had the chance to hear about and question all aspects of a district listing. They supported the nomination, either in hopes of using tax credits themselves, or to help preservation work downtown by other owners.

The National Register still matters as a brand. We now have three districts and maybe two handfuls of individual properties on the Register. You can preserve old buildings without recognition, but it immediately means something to visitors (tourists, college families, prospective Genevans) who care. For as much as we’ve lost, Geneva is still seen as a city that has preserved a lot of its architecture.

National Register of Historic Places nominations, as well income tax credit programs, are handled through the New York State Historic Preservation Office. To learn more, go to

Friday, June 13, 2014

A "Tisket" a "Tasket" I love my Picnic Basket

By Karen Osburn, Archivist

As usual, when I write an article I search for something from my own experience as a starting point.  This time it is picnics.  I love picnics, not that I manage to go on many of the stereotypical “tablecloth on the grass picnics”.  I love the image of that type of picnic, but mine seldom work out that way.  I have cookbooks on how to create and pack a fancy picnic.  I even had a picnic basket once.  The whole idea is just so appealing, a simple dinner in the great outdoors.  Cold chicken and grape salad, tasty bread, cheese, fresh fruit, deviled eggs, a variety of cookies and the beverage of your choice are all part of my imagined perfect picnic.  Hopefully, Yogi Bear and his pal Boo Boo will be someplace other than at my feast that day.

Of course the reality is that I also end up taking lawn chairs, a cooler, a picnic basket of some type, a tablecloth, sunglasses, sunscreen, bug repellant, a sun hat, a jacket, plates, cups, flatware, napkins and so on.  What starts off as a simple meal in the park turns into what appears to be a three day expedition in the wilderness. How does this happen?  For me it is the old idea of, “always be prepared”.  I try to cover every contingency and a few I might not think of and end up complicating a simple lunch.  I guess I can identify with the people in Georgian England in the late 1700s early 1800s who seemed to have the same problem with a simple picnic. 

Recently I’ve been researching picnics for a picnic contest we want to hold at Rose Hill on Jane Austen Day July 26.  I have poured over recipes and found some really interesting ones that sound tasty.  I am not sure that “easy” or simple comes into the process anywhere.  Some of the recipes I have looked up require a day or more of preparation.  One of the most elaborate is a “Pigeon Pie”, which has a gravy based meat filling.  How do you cut, serve and eat something of that nature without china plates (no paper plates in the 1800s), glasses, forks, knives, serving utensils, etc.?  I find the most interesting feature of this entrĂ©e is the note that in Regency/Georgian England it was the “custom” to put “nicely cleaned” pigeon feet in the crust to indicate the contents.  Plus, the pie was made with whole birds; you picked out the bones as you ate the pie.  Not a very appealing dish to modern picnickers.  However, another recipe for Hot or Cold Broccoli, and one for Salmagundy look quite doable and appropriate for a picnic. Salmagundy, which I would compare to a Cobb salad or perhaps an Antipasto, is really simple to prepare and just takes the effort of laying various colorful ingredients (pickles, vegetables and cold chopped meats) out in a pretty manner. 

Some of the research I have done indicated that in the 1780s -1820s servants with carts hauled everything, but the picnic ants to the site of the intended picnic.  This is far from simple and even sounds more elaborate than my own fancy, little table cloth and picnic hamper.  Whatever happened to the idea of “a jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou” (from Edward FitzGerald’s translation of the Rubaiyat of Oman Khayyam)? 

When I was a child my mom and dad’s idea of a picnic lunch was to stop, while on a drive, at a small grocery in a rural town, buy cold cuts, mustard and a loaf of bread.  Dad spread the mustard and cut the sandwiches with his pocket knife and we used Kleenex for napkins.  If I really behaved I may have the opportunity for an Orange Crush in a brown bottle.  Dessert was usually fresh fruit from a farm stand or if it was too early in the year for fruit a package of cookies.  A very simple repast, of which, I doubt the English would have approved.

One of the most fun things I have ever done involving picnics, was partake in a cross county carriage event where I had to pack a lunch appropriate for the vintage of the carriage in which I rode.  This was before the days of the internet and trying to find out what to bring was difficult. All I remember was that I had a cold meat, bread, a beverage, real china and glasses in the basket.  I know I had a few other items including shortbread for dessert, but the person who won the judging brought “jugged hare” in a blue glass canning jar.  She also had other very appropriate foods for the era her vehicle represented.  I have been interested in period picnics ever since that time. 

Today, I usually opt for plates, cups and containers that aren’t breakable and made by Dixie, Hefty or Rubbermaid for example.  I want my feast to require as few trips to my car as possible, so I often use a reusable shopping bag for a picnic hamper.  In fact when in a hurry, I can put together a great picnic by dropping in at a grocery store.  I can purchase something much better than the impromptu sandwiches and orange soda of my childhood.  Granted it costs more, but I still can’t totally give up that idealized idea of the checked table cloth, cold smoked salmon, a nice piece of Gouda, some apricots, a baguette, some sparkling grape juice and a pleasing assortment of cookies all spread out under a tree by Seneca Lake.
Ah summer!

I hope you will consider participating in our period picnic contest on Jane Austen Day, who knows, someone just might bring pigeon pie?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Tour of Homes

37 High Street
The definition of “home” varies from person to person.  It might be spiritual or physical, temporary or long term.  This year’s theme for the Geneva Historical Society’s Tour of Homes is What is Home.  The homes and properties on the tour are each unique but they all share one thing in common – to someone they are home.

21 Jay Street
On Saturday, June 14 from 10 am to 4 pm the following homes and properties will be on view:
715 South Main Street
  • Lochland School, 1065 Lochland Road
  • Laurel Carney and David Cameron, 21 Jay Street
  • Carr McGuire House, 775 South Main Street
  • Jennifer Morris and James Spates, 715 South Main Street 

5726 East Lake Road
  • Mark and Mary Gearan, 690 South Main Street
  • Mary Lou Presutti, 511 South Main Street, Apt. 3
  • The Rose Petal Inn, 41-43 North Main Street
  • Marolyn Caldwell and Steven Mull, 37 High Street

5726 East Lake Road
  • First United Methodist Church, 340 Main Street
  • Rose Hill Mansion, 3373 Route 96A
  • Theresa and Tony Fulgieri, 5726 East Lake Road

The Tour of Homes will offer a little bit for everyone:

511 South Main Street Apt. 3
  • Architecture -  Federal ( 775 South Main), Greek Revival (690 South Main, 511 South Main and 3373 Route 96A), Eastlake Victorian (37 High), Colonial Revival (715 South Main), and  Neo-Roman (340 Main)
  • Art Collections – 715 and 690 South Main
  • Local Author – John Allen’s second book The Spirit of Wallace Paine takes place at 775 South Main.  Throughout the day he will be available to discuss the book and sign copies. 
    690 South Main Street
  • Geneva and World War II Connections – 775 South Main, 511 South Main, and 5726 East Lake
  • Views of Seneca Lake – 715 South Main, 511 South Main, 3373 Route 96A, and 5726 East Lake
  • Music – juke box (21 Jay), player piano (37 High), and organ (340 Main Street).  At 4 pm there will be a 30-minute organ recital at the First United Methodist Church.

340 Main Street
  • Stained glass windows  - 37 High and 340 Main Street
  • Hobart and William Smith Colleges Connections – 1065 Lockland, 775 South Main, 715 South Main, and 690 South Main.
  • This and that – sit in the same rooms that Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony did while visiting Geneva (1065 Lockland),  see a 3 hole outhouse (37 High)Mull), find a brick with a cat’s paw print (41-43 North Main Street), and view the second oldest house in Geneva (1065 Lockland Road). Weather permitting, there will be a few classic cars on display at 3373 Route 96A. 

1065 Lochland Road

Tickets for the Tour of Homes are $20 and are available in advance at Pedulla’s Liquor Store, Stomping Grounds, the Geneva and Canandaigua Chambers of Commerce, Rose Hill Mansion, Long’s Books, and the Geneva Historical Society. On the day of the tour, tickets will be sold at the Geneva Historical Society and at the door of each house on the tour. Ticket holders will also be eligible to win a gift basket from Harry & David. Geneva Historical Society members can purchase discounted tickets only in advance of the tour at the Geneva Historical Society office. For further information, call the Historical Society office at 315-789-5151.

775 South Main Street

The 2014 Tour of Homes is generously supported by Coldwell Banker Finger Lakes, Red Jacket Orchards and Billsboro Winery.

3373 Route 96A