Ardell Lucy Rouse Wickwire was born to Simeon and Sabrina Rowley Rouse in 1845. Ardell married Chester Wickwire on Oct. 2nd, 1866. After their wedding, they moved into her mother’s house at 17 Tompkins Street in Cortland. She gave birth to her first child, Raymond, in 1872. Raymond’s life was short; he passed away from scarlet fever at the age of 5 years. In 1879, Ardell gave birth to her second son Charles. Her third son, Frederic, was born in 1883. On June 1st, 1890, Ardell moved into her new home at 37 Tompkins with her family. With the help of domestics, Ardell managed the house. Ardell worked to make the house a pleasant place for the boys to grow up and for her husband to find refuge from his work. Ardell also dedicated her time outside of the home. She was on several committees for the Cortland Library Association including the finance and entertainment committees. Ardell passed away at the age of 70 in 1915.
Charles Wickwire was born on June 23rd, 1879 to Chester and Ardell Wickwire. Charles was almost eleven years old when his family moved into their new mansion. He and his younger brother, Frederic, spent their youth playing in and exploring their 15,000 square foot home.
When Charles was a boy, he took banjo and French lessons. He attended Cortland Normal School before going to Phillips Andover Academy in Andover, Massachusetts for his university training in 1898. Chester took Charles and Frederic on many cultural trips to places like, New York City, the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Saratoga Springs, and the west coast.
Charles married his childhood sweetheart and next door neighbor, Mabel Louise Fitzgerald, on Oct. 9th, 1902. They had three children: Helen Ardell (born 1906), Charlotte Rouse (born 1909), and Charles Chester Jr. (born 1914).
The couple built a new home for themselves in 1912 at 29 Tompkins Street, right next door to his family’s house. In 1907, Charles became the Vice President of Wickwire Bros. Co. and eventually became president of the company in 1914.
Frederic Rouse Wickwire was born on January 16th, 1883 to Chester and Ardell Wickwire. Frederic was seven years old when his family moved into their new home at 37 Tompkins Street. Frederic and his older brother, Charles, spent their youth playing in and exploring their 15,000 square foot mansion. Frederic took banjo and French lessons when he was a boy and attended Cortland Normal School. He attended Yale in 1905 and earned a Bachelor’s in Philosophy. He married Marian A. Goodrich of Owego on June 1st, 1912. The couple had four children: Chester Frederic (born 1913), Cynthia Margaret (born 1915), Lyman Goodrich (born 1919), and Winthrope Rouse (born 1923). Frederic was the director of Wickwire Steel in Buffalo and Vice President and Secretary of Wickwire Brothers in Cortland. Frederic and his family moved into his father’s mansion in 1923. Frederic made several changes to the house to update it and make it suit his family. The most notable change he made was the addition of the Sun Parlor and Fernery to the west side of the house. These rooms provided the bright modern space that his family was looking for. The addition cost him $40,000. Unfortunately, Frederic did not get to live in the house much longer. He passed away after a two year illness on September 17th, 1929.
Marian Goodrich Wickwire O’Connor was born in 1888 in Owego, NY to Lyman T. and Cynthia Cornell Goodrich. She married Frederic Wickwire on June 1st, 1912. Together they had four children: Chester Frederic (born 1913), Cynthia Margaret (born 1915), Lyman Goodrich (born 1919), and Winthrope Rouse (born 1923).
Marian and her family moved into Chester’s mansion in 1923. She and Frederic quickly made updates to the house to better accommodate the tastes and styles of the 1920s. The most significant change that they made to the house was the addition of the Sun Parlor and Fernery. These rooms provided a bright, modern space for the family to enjoy. After Frederic passed away in 1929 from a prolonged illness, Marian remarried a local attorney named C. Leonard O’Connor.
They were married April 30th, 1931. Marian and Leonard made their own updates to the house, mostly in the kitchen and bathrooms, to keep up with the changing times. Marian occupied her time raising her four children, planning social events such as garden parties, writing poetry, and filling the house with her treasures. Leonard O’Connor passed away in 1971, leaving Marian alone once more. She lived in the house for a total of 50 years. She passed away in 1973 and was the last Wickwire to live in the house.
Please note that the museum will be closed November 23 for Thanksgiving and Friday, November 24 as we prepare for the holiday season.
WINTER HOURS (October-April)
Thursdays to Saturdays Noon - 4pm
SUMMER HOURS (May - September)
Thursdays to Saturdays 11am - 5pm
Sundays 11am -3pm
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37 Tompkins Street
Cortland, NY 13045