Rose Hill Mansion FAQs

Book Now

How old is the house? Who built it?

The Greek Revival Mansion was built in 1839 by William Kerley Strong. The Carriage House Visitor Center and Gift Shop is Strong’s former carriage house which was created out of the oldest structure on the property, the c. 1809 house of Robert Rose. The Swan family lived on the property from 1850-1890.

Did enslaved people live at Rose Hill?

Yes. Slavery existed in New York from 1626 through the 1840s.  In 1799, the New York State Legislature enacted a law to gradually phase out slavery. Males born to enslaved women after July 4, 1799, would be free at the age of 28 and females would be free at 25. The age for all was ultimately lowered to 21.  Under another act enslaved people born before July 4, 1799, were granted their freedom as of July 4, 1827.

The first two residents of Rose Hill (Dr. Alexander Coventry and the Rose family) were enslavers.  In 1792, Dr. Alexander Coventry moved his family from the Hudson Valley. He brought two enslaved people, Cuff and Bett, who were married.  Bett was enslaved by another person and Cuff refused to move unless Dr. Coventry purchased Bett and her two youngest children, Jean and Ann. (Though he did purchase them, it does not appear the children moved here.) In June 1793 Bett died of malaria, which had sickened many in the household.  Concerned for his family’s health, Dr. Coventry moved to Fort Schuyler (now Utica) in 1796. It’s likely Cuff went with him.

Robert and Jane Rose came to New York from Virginia in 1803 with their extended family and 37 enslaved people. Most of the enslaved people were farm laborers.  There were also skilled carpenters, a nursemaid, and a cook.  Between 1810 and 1820, Robert manumitted (freed) 28 of his 37 enslaved people.   He kept a small group of enslaved people for farm work and domestic chores until they were freed under New York State law in 1827.

The buildings, which were the slave quarters are no longer standing.

Research into the lives of enslaved people at Rose Hill is ongoing.  Based on our current knowledge, below is a list of the enslaved people at Rose Hill from 1792 to 1827:



Aggy Gaten (wife of Charles Kenney)

Aunt Dinah

Aunt Judy Gaten

Berlet Kenney (child of Aggy and Charles)

Billy Nicholas


Ceaser Gaten

Charles Kenney (husband of Aggy Gaten)

Dangerfield Lee

David Kenney

David Lee

Edmond Lee

Emily Douglas (child of Phillis and Henly)

Garrett Kenney

Geo. Gaton

Godfrey Gaten

Henly Douglas (husband of Phillis Kenney)

Henry Douglas (child of Phillis and Henly)

Henry Gaten

Jenny Kenney (child of Aggy and Charles)

John Gaten

John Kenney

Lucy Nicholas

Margaret Douglas (child of Phillis and Henly)

Maria/Mary Gaten

Nancy Kenney (child of Aggy and Charles)

Peter Lincoln

Phillis Kenney (wife of Henly Douglas)

Tom Gaten


Can I see the house without a guided tour?

No, the interior of the house can only be viewed by guided tour.  The Carriage House Visitor Center and Gift Shop and exhibits in the East Tenant Cottage can be seen free of charge during open hours.

Is Rose Hill wheelchair accessible?

Rose Hill Mansion has limited wheelchair access.

Visitors with limited mobility may park in the bus loop in front of the Visitor Center for closer access to the mansion’s entrance. The Visitor Center has restrooms up one step, and wheelchair accessible restrooms are in an outbuilding off of the main parking area behind the Visitor Center.

Access around the grounds and house is over gravel drives, slate walkways, and uneven grass.

There are 5 steps up to the main entrance of the house.  The house is wheelchair accessible by a ramp off the back porch. The house is wheelchair accessible on the first floor only. The kitchen is down two steps from the main part of the house. Thresholds between some rooms are slightly raised. There are 20 stairs to the second floor. An informational binder and seating is provided for those who cannot see the upstairs section of the tour in the Visitor Center or in the mansion’s kitchen.

The Carpenter Shop is not wheelchair accessible and must be accessed by 5 steps.

The Visitor Center is partially accessible and the first floor of the mansion is wheelchair accessible with temporary ramps. We have one wheelchair accessible bathroom on site. Images of the second floor rooms are available for viewing in the Visitor Center. Please call and let us know your needs, if you anticipate difficulties accessing the buildings and we will do our best to accommodate you.

Are the grounds open to the public?

The grounds are open during daylight hours year-round.  Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult.


Is the house air conditioned?

No, the house is heated, but not air conditioned. It can be very warm inside in hot weather. In addition, despite central heating, the house can be cooler inside than outside, especially in the early summer and late fall.

Is Rose Hill a government-owned site?

Rose Hill Mansion is owned and operated by Historic Geneva, a private non-profit corporation, which receives some funding from the City and Town of Geneva and the New York State Council on the Arts.  

Based on its architecture the mansion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.  The mansion was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Can you take pictures or video of Rose Hill?

As long as they are for personal and not commercial use, photographs and video can be taken of the house and grounds. Photographs inside the house must be taken without the use of a flash.

Do you take donations? How can you support Rose Hill Mansion?

Yes. Please see our Support page for more information.

Do you accept credit cards?

We accept Mastercard and Visa.

Did Native Americans live on the Rose Hill property?

Rose Hill Mansion stands on the traditional, unceded lands of the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’ or “the People of the Great Swamp.”  In English, they are known as the Cayuga Nation.  They are one of the six Nations that make up the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, the world’s oldest continual participatory democracy.

The Cayuga came to the area around 1000 CE. Soil and water made it a good home. Towns were established on high ground for defensive reasons. Men used the shallow waters, like around Boody’s Point to the north of Rose Hill in the summer to catch and dry fish. Women grew corn, squash, and beans. They also gathered wild fruits and planted apple and peach orchards.

In 1779 the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign destroyed numerous Cayuga and other Haudenosaunee villages and burned acres of fields and orchards. The destruction weakened the Haudenosaunee and initially forced them out of Western New York.

Why We Use The Language We Use

American History is complicated.  This history is represented in the people who have lived and worked at Rose Hill.

In our exhibits, programs, and online content we strive to use language that more accurately reflects the inherent humanity of people and historical accuracy.

As the use of specific words and our understanding of them evolves, we shift the way we talk about certain topics.  Through that evolution, our motivation remains constant: to examine the past and the people who lived through it honestly and with all the integrity we can muster.