Animals at Rose Hill

August 25th, 2023

By Mel Oles, Visitor Services and Program Manager at Rose Hill Mansion and Johnston House

Rose Hill is not only known for its rich history and architecture, but also for the diverse range of animals that have called it home. From bald eagles to white deer, an assortment of wildlife inhabits the beautiful grounds of Rose Hill.

As you stroll through the historic grounds, keep an eye out for the various bird species. With the lush landscape and pond, Rose Hill provides an ideal habitat for many feathered friends. The most common birds are the red-winged black birds and cardinals. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a bald eagle or osprey on its way to Seneca Lake.

Squirrels. It’s hard not to notice the squirrels. These creatures add a touch of charm, however destructive they are to the property. This past spring a large group were born, and we found them in the attic and basement.

a dog in a kiddie pool and a kitten in a file organizer

The four legged residences of Rose Hill – Seneca and Rosie

The planted flowers on the grounds are a haven for butterflies and bees. The butterfly tree that we recently planted by the Carriage House attracts butterflies throughout the season. Many visitors comment on the beautiful flower pots throughout the property.

The seasonal staff like to talk about the wildlife they have seen and have created a running list—white deer, brown deer, fox, possum, bald eagle, rabbits, frogs, woodchuck, snakes, muskrat, ducks, and a whiff of a skunk.

Historically there were many domesticated animals at Rose Hill. The Rose family (1809 to 1837) had a small flock of Southdowns and Spanish Merinos and cattle. The Swan family (1850-1890) had a variety of livestock including pigs, hogs, chickens, ponies, Durham and Devon cattle, and Leicester sheep. In the 1860s, Robert Swan had 1,200 sheep. That would have been fun to see that many sheep at Rose Hill.

Today livestock are brought in for special events like Family Day. The only domesticated animals on site are my dog Seneca and cats. When I moved to the site, I had two senior cats (Pablo and Kat). A few weeks ago, a kitten was found next to the Carriage House. I took in the kitten and the staff named her Rosie. She has been a great addition to Rose Hill.

One response to “Animals at Rose Hill”

  1. MJ Benda says:

    Love that Seneca and Rosie are now part of Rose Hill’s history!

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