Looking Back At My First Year At Rose Hill

May 26th, 2022

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

Woman with a dog in her arms standing at the front door of Rose Hill Mansion

Mel Oles with her dog Seneca

It has been a year since I took the position as Visitor Services and Program Manager at Rose Hill Mansion and Johnston House. Part of the position is living on-site at Rose Hill. I’ve lived on a historic site before, so this was not a new notion to me. But it is very different living at a historic site, compared to working there several hours a day and leaving at the end of the day. I truly experience the site in all kinds of weather and situations. It is a unique way to experience Rose Hill by day or night.

One experience to reflect on is the different seasons at Rose Hill. The summer months are lovely. There is always a breeze off Seneca Lake. I love having my windows open and enjoying the scenic views of the area or watching the sail boats. When the Swans lived here in the 1850s to 1890s, they might have experienced the cool breezes off the lake while sipping their lemonade on the porch during the summer months.

However, it’s also hard to live at Rose Hill during the winter months. The winter weather can be harsh. I noticed the snow drifts and how the wind blows across the lawn from the lake. It was always windy in the winter which made it very difficult to walk my dog, Seneca. My dog is a small, short-haired dachshund mix, who confirmed that it wasn’t pleasant to be outside. Those were long cold and dark days last winter.

Living on-site also allows me to use the site as if it were my home. I walk the paths, use the driveway, move around the historic buildings to do my daily walk throughs, and spend both personal and professional time on the property. By living here, I can relate to the families and workers who have lived and worked on the property in the past.

I believe that living on-site has helped me connect to the stories of the Rose, Strong and Swan families. It has been a truly living history journey from every perspective.

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