Geneva's History Explored by Alums
Posted on Friday, June 03, 2011
Alumni and alumnae alike joined Honorary Trustee Barbara Lynch Springstead '57, L.H.D. '90 for the annual "Historic Geneva and Rose Hill Mansion Tour" on Friday afternoon. The group made its first stop at The Smith Observatory, which was constructed in 1888 by William Smith to house the experiments and observations of astronomer William R. Brooks. The alums watched as owner John B. Mulvey pulled open the dome of the observatory to reveal a vast space for onlookers to peer through the historic telescope into the open sky. The apparatus, constructed in the 1880s, was clearly ahead of its time.
"That's quite something to have an observatory in your backyard," said Lani Brown, wife of Richard Brown '61.
The next stop on the tour was the William Smith Inn that was built in 1873 by William Smith and was sold in 1912 after his death. David Gage '91, director of International Student Affairs at the Colleges, and wife Theresa, purchased the inn in 2004. The alums were able to marvel at the renovated interior, which now serves as a bed and breakfast with 10 bedrooms, seven baths, and two kitchens.
The tour concluded with a visit to Rose Hill Mansion. Constructed in 1839 by Robert and Jane Rose of Virginia, the mansion was expanded and renovated into a Greek revival house by William Strong, and later inhabited by the Swan family. The house was again restored in the 1960s by Waldo Hutchins Jr. in honor of his mother, Agnes Swan Hutchins, who grew up in the house. The alums were taken on a tour of the mansion. Jim Beardsley '61 P'91 and wife Marcia Beardsley '62 P'91 described the tour guide as "engaging and very well-informed; a pleasure to listen to."
Alums strolled through the myriad of rooms and elegant décor that comprised the beautifully aged home. Letters were read and photos were recounted that gave the alums a glimpse into the history of the historic plantation.
"It is quite interesting to be able to show alums a side of Geneva they have never seen before. It as at once nostalgic, yet completely new," said Springstead. The tour of the mansion concluded with refreshments on the back terrace that over looked 100s of acres of farmland.