Susan I. Swanton, past director of the Gates Public Library and founding president of the Gates Historical Society in 1999, was reelected president of the society at the organization’s 2019 annual meeting at the Gates Community Center.
The society operates the Hinchey Homestead which is owned by the Town of Gates and is the only structure in the town listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The homestead was built in the 1870s by Franklin Hinchey, the son of pioneer William S. Hinchey. The homestead was purchased by the historical society from a family descendant in 2002. Ownership was transferred to the Town of Gates in 2004.
Gates Town Supervisor Cosmo Giunta gave the oath of office to President Swanton, Vice-President Patty Nadiak; Jack Frank of Scottsville, N.Y., and Kristine Klein of Gates. Terry Mason and Virginia Paddock, both from Gates, were reelected to the board. They join continuing board members Cindy Hinchey, Lee Krist, Marlene Sutliff, Sue Swingle and Mary Yates, Treasurer.
Outgoing co-presidents Virginia Paddock and Sue Swingle were honored at the meeting for their service. Gates Town Historian Bill Gillette and Town liaison to the Society presented the group with a cake honoring the Society’s twenty years of service to the community.
Ms. Swanton said that plans for the future include expanding open hours at the homestead along with selected weekends, increased publicity efforts, and development of youth activities to encourage interest in the rich local history of Gates.
The society received its renewed provisional charter from New York State in January and is developing a five-year long-range plan to achieve an absolute charter.
Notable achievements in the past year are expanded tours of the homestead and revival of the bridal exhibit of period wedding dresses.
Restoration projects in 2018 and 2019 have included the stabilization of the front staircase banister and the rebuilding of the outdoor front and side steps. A fund-raising effort is now underway to rebuild the signature white picket fence along the Hinchey Road frontage of the property.
In addition, Wolcott Hinchey—the last Hinchey family member to live in the homestead—formally donated all the furnishings to the society, which had previously been on long-term loan. “This donation is a much-appreciated necessary step for the society to obtain an absolute charter from New York State,” said Ms. Swanton.
A number of 19th-century features are on display in the homestead such as the kitchen sink pump and the two-seater “indoor” outhouse. The unique three-story cabbage barn on the property was constructed from old box cars. Period furnishings and artifacts fill every closet in the Italianate-style homestead.
“There is so much that we must do over the next five years to earn our absolute charter,” said Ms. Swanton. “Volunteer opportunities abound.”
For more information or to volunteer, contact Ms. Swanton at (585) 226-3734 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.