Sharing all stories.

The 1890 House Museum

Your House, Your History.

Our theme for 2018 is storytelling. For decades we have been sharing the stories of inventor and industrialist Chester F. Wickwire and his family. Now we are expanding on this narrative, by telling the stories of servants like Catherine Liston, who emigrated from Ireland in 1898 at seven years old, and lived and worked for the Wickwire Family at 37 Tompkins Street as a maid in 1915. We also strive to tell the stories of those who labored at Wickwire Brothers Wire Mill Factory, from the late 19th century through 1968.  It is their stories that reveal the industrial and immigrant roots of the Cortland community, which are still present today.

Stephanie Meeks, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation describes historic buildings as “…not just pretty edifices. They’re economic engines, centers of community, and the foundation for a stronger, more vibrant future.” It is this statement that the 1890 House Museum holds dear and uses as a catalyst for moving forward.

Through these projects, we will safeguard and share the stories of the past, to ensure that Cortland has a vibrant future.

The museum is focusing on new interpretation throughout the building, improving building accessibility, undergoing a restoration project of the Servant Quarters, partnering with SUNY Cortland’s Public History Department for an Oral History Project on those who worked at the Wickwire Factory, and working on Carriage House Restoration and gardens for the community.


The impressive collection found throughout the 1890 House Museum offers visitors the opportunity to step back to Cortland in the late 19th century. It’s unique history that lives within the walls not only tells the stories of the Wickwire family, but of their servants, their unique pets -like Jac the Parrot, a favorite of youngest son Frederic Wickwire where this parrot flew throughout the house- its art and architecture, the original inventions created by Chester Wickwire, and the history of the Wickwire Wire Mills Factory and those who worked there.

We will continue to work on diverse programming and exhibitions to educate and inspire everyone who walks through our doors. With your help, together we will support this Cortland County landmark for past, present, and future generations of local and visitors alike.


Support Cortland County’s Landmark Building

Support our Framing the Past Photo Project

Founded in 1975 and receiving its NYS Charter as a historic house museum in 1984, the 1890 House Museum boasts an impressive collection of photographs. These photographs document the lives of the Wickwire family and their friends from the late 19th century through the 20th century. When inventor & industrialist Chester F. Wickwire moved into his home on June 1, 1890, he photographed each room as it was. These photographs have now been digitally preserved by Roger Theise from Roger Williams Photography. Some of these interior photos have never been on view to the public before.

Sponsor a photograph today!

Opening Hours

WINTER HOURS (October-April)

Thursdays to Saturdays Noon - 4pm

SUMMER HOURS (May - September)

Thursdays to Saturdays 11am - 5pm

Sundays 11am -3pm

Contact us

Feel free to contact us with Questions or Concerns by visiting our contact page located Here.

Give us a call during our hours of operation at 607 756 7551 or email us directly at

37 Tompkins Street

Cortland, NY 13045

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