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The 1890 House Museum aims to promote and interpret the historical and cultural significance of this property to the public. The 1890 House seeks to collect, preserve, research, display, and interpret objects that promote local and national history of America’s cultural heritage during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The impressive limestone mansion, now called the 1890 House Museum, was once the home of 19 th century Industrialist Chester F. Wickwire. Born in 1843, Chester grew up on the family farm in McGraw, east of Cortland. As a young man, he moved to Cortland and opened a grocery store on Main Street. Gradually, the grocery store became a hardware business. Chester’s brother, Theodore, joined him in the business. In 1873, the brothers received a carpet loom as payment for a debt. Adapting the loom to weave wire, Chester transformed the hardware store into a major manufacturing firm that would impact the nation.
The Wickwires’ financial success came from their ability to produce reasonably-priced wire goods with machines designed and patented by Chester. To meet the ever-increasing demand for their products, the brothers built a new factory on South Main Street in 1880. Soon, Wickwire Brothers Co. became one of the largest manufacturers of wire cloth in America, and the largest employer in Cortland County. Secure with the success of the business, Chester turned his attentions to the construction of a new family residence.
The museum preserves the history of the Wickwire family and of important industrial area history as well as acting as a community center for cortland history.