A Victorian Showcase
— Pursuit of Culture —
Max Richardson lived in an era called the Victorian Period (when England's Queen Victoria ruled over the British Empire), when wealthy people were traveling to exotic places, collecting art and cultural artifacts, reading, and socializing.
Max was a real estate attorney, insurance broker, civic leader, and two-term Mayor of the City of Oswego. Max lived in this house with his widowed mother, his divorced sister, and her son.
Harriet was Max's divorced sister. She lived here with her son Norman. Norman's children donated the house and its contents to the Oswego County Historical Society in 1946.
Oswego in the 1880s
Max's house, completed at a time when Oswego's economy was slowing, was a sign of his optimism that Oswego would return to the prosperity that came from shipping activities on the canal and harbor in the 1860s.
Italian Villa Style
Andrew Jackson Warner designed Max's 1872 tower addition, borrowing styles from Italian renaissance structures. Oswego architect John Seeber designed the south addition in 1887 to complete the Italian Villa look.
The Drawing Room, the largest and most formal of the public spaces, functioned as a great art gallery, presenting the family's refined culture and taste to visitors.
Formal visitors were received in the smaller Reception Room, while the Drawing Room was for larger formal affairs.
Educated Victorians loved to read and were fascinated with science and nature. Bedrooms frequently contained massive bookcases to support their desire for knowledge.
The third floor of the tower contained Max's cultural and natural history objects, collected while traveling in Europe and the Middle East.
House / Family Timeline
1852 - Original frame house built by Jacob Richardson for his wife and three children.
1854 - Jacob Richardson dies.
1863 - Harriet marries Byron Bates - he moves in to live with the Richardsons.
1865 - Norman Bates is born.
1870 - Byron Bates leaves Harriet.
1872 - Max adds four-story tower and north wing to original frame house.
1887 - Construction begins to replace the original 1850s frame section.
1899 - Norman marries and moves out.
1903 - Max Richardson dies.
1908 - Harriet Bates dies.
1910 - Lawrence Richardson dies.
1911 - Norman moves in with his wife Florence and their four children.
1911 - Norman wires the house with electricity.
1923 - Norman Bates dies.
1945 - Florence Bates dies.
1946 - House and most of the contents are donated to the Oswego County Historical Society.
1953 - Piazzas (porches) are removed from the north and west facades.
1974 - Major restoration to exterior of building.
1977 - Building is accepted on the National Register of Historic Places.