2021 Year in Review

December 31st, 2021

Historic Geneva - Our Past Can Change Your Future



A different name, same mission – Historic Geneva .




Screen shot of the Elizabeth Black presentationBlackwell Zoom

To celebrate the 200th birthday of Elizabeth Blackwell a virtual “History Sandwiched In” was hosted in February 2021.


We started the year off offering virtual programs through Zoom.  By the fall we were able to host hybrid and in person programs like History Happy Hours at Lake Drum Brewing, Rose Hill By Candlelight, a staged reading of a play about Fossenvue, behind the scenes tours to the Geneva History Museum, and cemetery tours.


Group of men standing and sitting outside

Though social media posts and blog articles, we shared how the staff curates our own stories at home.  In 2003 John Marks and his wife saw Little River Band at the Smith Opera House.




In addition to regular posts on Facebook  and Instagram we continued our short video series and weekly blog articles.







Pastoral landscape of a young couple strolling through a pasture towards a house at the end of a rainbow

Landscape With Rainbow, 1859. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Art Museum

2021 marked the 200th birthday of artists Robert S. Duncanson (1821-1872).  Born in Fayette, Duncanson painted landscapes during the Civil War period and is considered the first African American artist to be international known.  We are joining museums, cities and civic organizations from across the country in a year-long celebration (June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022) of Duncanson’s life and achievements.



photo a man playing a bass, painting of a woman holding a shawl, and a photo of a man in a baseball uniform holding a bat.

Innovators – Scott LaFaro, Elizabeth Ricord, and Henry McDonald.

From student art work to local innovators, we hosted a variety of exhibits in 2021.  Our exhibits were An Educated Citizenry: Education in Geneva, My Geneva Is.., the Geneva City School District Art Show, Geneva Innovators, We Stayed Home: A Record of Geneva During the Covid-19 Pandemic, My Geneva Is …Home Edition; One House, Many Workers: Workers at Rose Hill, and several installments of Community Curators.



Boxes and materials of the Geneva Woman's Club on tables

Archivist Becky Chapin organized the Geneva Woman’s Club collection.

Our collections care encompassed a variety of activities including digitizing archival materials, answering research requests, developing collections narratives to help fill gaps in our collections, conducting inventories, creating finding aids, processing donations, organizing (and in several cases reorganizing) collections, data entry and filing.



 Five men posed next to a drum set.

Mr. Johnston was out and about Geneva celebrating his anniversary.  The images were shared on social media.



2021 was the 200th anniversary of  John Johnston settling in the area.  We commemorated the anniversary with an exhibit on Geneva Innovators , blog articles and social media posts.







Broken Dishes Quilt on a bedOur financial support came from a variety of sources in 2021 – donations, support campaigns, Rose Hill admissions, gift shops  sales, a quilt raffle, publicly and privately funded grants, online auctions, the second round of the Payroll Protection Program, and the Holiday Market.  Thank you to our supporters, grant funders, and other who generously supported Historic Geneva in 2021.


woman standing on a the steps of a porch




We welcomed four new trustees to the board and new employees at Rose Hill including Mel Oles our Visitor Services and Programs Manager.




A group of people standing in a large hallway listening to a tour guide.

Rose Hill Mansion re-opened in July with a limited schedule







One shelf has painted bottled and two shelves have memory jugs

Collection of Chris Davis.



The Community Curator series continued with Karen Collizzi Noonan (theater models), Marty Schlabach (poultry paraphilia), Chris Davis (memory jugs and bottle art), Pat Keefe (projectile points), and the late Bill Best (eagles).





man spraying a multi-story building

Power washing at Rose Hill Mansion



Maintenance projects primarily took place at Rose Hill.  Among the projects were converting the Tenant Cottage into a vacation rental, installing additional outdoor lighting, painting the mansion’s exterior, repairs to the skylight, and tree removal.





From Beyond Homepage

During the summer of 2021 four HWS Theatre students conducted archival research on the history of African-Americans in Geneva.  They then translated the stories into a series of monologues and short scenes, which were performed outdoors in downtown Geneva by HWS and community actors in September.

Partnering with organizations and taking part in community events allows us to reach to a broad audience.  Our outreach activities included “Looking Back Articles” for the Finger Lakes Times and blog articles for Edible Finger Lakes; programs for Girl Scouts, Zonta Club, Ovid Library, Lyceum Heights, and St. Francis Senior Housing; class visits and internships for student from Hobart and William Smith Colleges; participating in the Farmer’s Market, YMCA’s  Senior Expo, and Rotary Club’s Santa Time; and contributing to the online exhibit Immigration in New York State, 1650-1950. 


Each letter of Geneva has a different color with Heritage Trail in blackThe Geneva Heritage Trail was developed by community members and is not meant to be an exhaustive list of where Geneva’s stories exist.  The initial seven sites are part of a trial run and were chosen to have the trail as walkable as possible.  The sites are Pulteney Park, Washington Street Cemetery, West-High Street Neighborhood, Nursery Industry, Buildings at Williams and Main Streets, Smith Opera House, and One Franklin Square.

Group of people in a cemetery.

Glenwood Cemetery tour, October 2021.








View of green fields and title Life in the Country: The Johnston House


With restrictions on school field trips we provided a variety of opportunities for students to explore Geneva’s stories on our website including videos and online lesson plans.



elderly woman reading to a child

Bette Schubert with her great-granddaugher




We could not accomplish all that we do without the time, talent, and treasure of community members.  In 2021 we witnessed the passing of several dedicated supporters and friends including Bill Best, Renata Turri, Bette Schubert, Beverly Simons, Verne Marshall, and Dan Quigley.



Checkout table for the Holiday Market

A holiday tradition continued with a twist.  Like the Wassail Bowl and Sale, the Holiday Market featured items donated and handcrafted by community members.


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