Successful Community Day at Rose Hill

September 30th, 2022

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

On August 13, Rose Hill Mansion hosted its annual Community Day with great success. Community Day is a free, family orientated event where visitors can walk through the mansion at their own pace and participate in a variety of activities around the site. Many people came this year to experience life in the 19th century and join in the activities of the day.

two cows in front of Rose Hill Mansion

Moon and Star at Community Day

Both the Swan and Johnston families had Devon cows. For Community Day the Freier family brought their Devon and American Linebacker oxen for demonstrations on the lawn.  It was the highlight of the day. The oxen were calm and well trained, so visitors were allowed to take their photographs with them. The Freier family are local farmers who raise and breed Devon cows for milk and beef. Historical agricultural education is a high priority for the Freier family and they plan to return next year.

Since the rear of the mansion was the center of activity for the Swan farm, many activities for Community Day took place in the mansion’s courtyard. After a beautiful makeover Rosie the Cow made her 9th appearance at a Historic Geneva event. Rosie is our fake cow that teaches visitors of all ages about dairy cows. During the event Joan Burch and John Marks played lovely music. John started the event by playing his fiddle while Joan played her guitar for the second half. Our crafts for the day were creative ways to learn about life in the 19th century. Not only could visitors make their own paper fans, but they learned the “language of the fan” as well (a few ways to send message with it without speaking a word). With tile drainage an important part of Rose Hill and Johnston House’s story, the second craft was making a clay drain tile.

The Ward O’ Hara Agricultural and Country Living Museum had a booth. Founded in 1973, the museum is located on Owasco Lake and is dedicated to the history of agriculture in Cayuga County as well as surrounding counties. One of museum’s activities was a Guess the Tool game. Many visitors even staff tried the game and had a blast.  The partnership with the Ward O’Hara Museum was ideal.

Young man with cow in front of Rose HIll Mansion

2022 Community Day

Inside the mansion we had a variety of activities.  After evening tea, the Swan family often played backgammon and Loto (a Bingo-like game). In the Back Parlor visitors could try out old-fashioned games like ball and cup, nine pins, pick up sticks and Jacob’s ladder.  These were a big hit because many visitors do not get a chance to play these games. In the Dining Room visitors could try to guess the different utensils the Swan family would have used. This was surprising a difficult activity as utensils like a pickle fork and fish fork stumped a few of the younger visitors. Butter was made in the kitchen.

Community Day wouldn’t have been as successful without all the help from Historic Geneva staff, volunteers, and participating partners. I would like to especially thank – the Frier Family, Ward O’ Hara Agricultural and Country Living Museum, Nancy and Dick Wright, Joan Burch, John Marks, Anne Dealy, Kerry Adams, and MJ Benda.

For more information about Rose Hill Mansion please visit our website.

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One response to “Successful Community Day at Rose Hill”

  1. Joan Burch says:

    What a beautiful event and day! And yes, the stars of the Community Day Event were Moon and Star who fit right into the landscape while offering a glimpse of what farm-life looked like in the 1800’s. Well done to all who put their time and energy into making Community Day a success at Rose HIll Mansion.

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