Granger Homestead Blog

January 15, 2011

Great Expectations

Filed under: Carriages, Sleighs, Horses,Homestead — grangerhomestead @ 12:11 am

Long time no blog. Since 9/11/10, we’ve had a turnover in command, a record breaking Canandaigua Christkindl Market, a stellar Festival of Trees and a much needed week off between Christmas and New Years.

The calls are starting to come in about carriage rides for weddings both here and at Sonnenberg Gardens. Many of our carriages have been refurnished. I found this great blog by a company that disassembles worn carriages and rebuilds them using as many of the original parts as they can. They do use modern tools such as orbital sanders, but the results are stunning. The blog that this link will take you to shows a Park Drag being brought back to life.

Here is OUR Park Drag 

For those of us that have a long drive to the Homestead, the record amount of show that we’ve received has been tiresome. It can’t be any better for sleigh rides. We’ve had great publicity this year and people love coming out for this unique experience. Here are some photos of last weekend’s sleigh rides.


 We’re thinking spring and are working on a series of gardening classes. It only makes sense since this was a working farm for many years. Our new education director, Kim Bellavia, is putting this great course together and should be finalizing it next week.

It seems like we here at the Homestead are always about a month behind other organizations when it comes to listing our programs. It may be because October, November and December are so busy for us with the preparation and running our two biggest fundraisers. Kim has some great ideas, so keep an eye out for them. My father had this wall hanging with the saying “Next year I’ll get organized”. We can strive for that.

If there are any classes that you’d like to see us offer, please leave us a comment. Stay warm and come on over for a $5 sleigh ride.


September 11, 2010

To Garnish or not to Garnish

Filed under: Uncategorized — grangerhomestead @ 11:45 pm

I served a group of Red Hat people a lovely plate of sweets and savories for the Tea at the Homestead yesterday. We have beautiful bone china, I put a white doily on the plate and a chocolate covered strawberry in the center. There were four kinds of sandwiches, a lemon square, two cookies and a scone. My co-worker and I looked at the plates and decided it needed a little more color. She said “parsley”. We didn’t have any, so we served them as is.

I know it isn’t very expensive, but in this day of budget crunches, is it necessary to spend extra on the garnish that no one will eat? It seems wasteful in a several ways.

Will that little bit of greenery make one of the ladies that attended the tea want to bring her grand-daughter here at another time, or will she the meal disappear from her mind because of its uniform color.

Do the ladies think we are cheap for not having it on their plate? They ate everything except the doily.

This time of year and in the summer I can go to our garden and pick flowers to put on the plate as garnish. But, then do I have the liability if someone is allergic to the flowers, eats them and goes into anaphylactic shock? We had someone try to eat the paper mache petit fours at one event here. Yes, alcohol was involved.

The amazing caterer that is here tonight, Anne Stevenson of Touch of Class Catering uses fresh herbs from her garden for garnish. She says it does make the plate more elegant, and she is right as all her serving platters look phenomenal.

What’s your take on this? Am I being cheap, or safe.

Lonna Cosmano

September 7, 2010

Granger Ghosts

Filed under: Uncategorized — grangerhomestead @ 7:19 pm

One question we commonly get from visitors is about ghosts in the Homestead. We tell them that if there is a spirit, it is a friendly one and we believe it is Frances, Gideon and Mindwell’s son that lived here with his family. Frances died suddenly in 1896, and his son, Gideon II died just six days later. Last week was the anniversary of these sad days. That may explain why I experienced a lot of unexplained incidents on Saturday.

Francis Granger, the troublemaker

We had a lively wedding and reception going on Saturday evening. The guests were coming in the back door and the front doorbell started ringing. Sean, the docent on that day, answered the door and no one was there. This happened two more times and quit.

Later on in the evening, there was the sound of an old-fashioned telephone ringing near the wicker porch. Everyone checked their cell phones – no one had a call and we never found the source of the ringing. It rang for quite some time.

Upstairs, I found the ceiling fan on in one of the offices. I had been up there earlier to use the copier and it was not on. OK, I guess, one of the guests may have come into the dark room, looked up and pulled the ring to start the fan. But it isn’t likely.

About 9 pm I needed to get something out of a locked safe. The lock (the kind you push in) was engaged. I went to another part of the office to look for something else and when I glanced over at the safe, the lock was sticking out – unlocked. I was able to get into the drawer and I locked it, tested it, and checked on it later. It stayed locked.

People I’ve told this to tell me to start talking to the spirits and say they must like me! I don’t feel threatened by them, but this is the first time I was a bit spooked! In the past, I would turn off all the lights before I leave and as I’m driving out, I see the light on in France’s bedroom. We played a game with one of the pole lights in that room a few times too.

The woman that was the Social Director before me had several encounters with Frances. She claims that he caught her when she was falling backwards and that she saw a faceless figure in the hallway one night.

Tommy Granger

In the bedroom that we call the Girl’s bedroom, there is a beautiful sleigh bed with a coverlet. There is always an indentation in between the pillows – even after you straighten the spread out. I joked that it is the ghost of a cat that likes to sleep there. A few months ago, I was going through some photographs that are on our computers and found a collection of photos of Tommy Granger, a big kitty that lived here in the 1930’s. Now I know who it probably is!

I hope that the Granger Ghosts continue to make themselves known in friendly ways. I wish I could sit down and have a chat with them too.

July 6, 2010

If the Tooth Hurts

Filed under: Uncategorized — grangerhomestead @ 2:26 pm

This article is written by our good friend and docent, Carla DeMeco.

Mrs. Granger, age 89

Shown here is a watercolor picture of Mindwell Granger (wife of Gideon the first) that can be seen in the Master bedroom of the Granger Homestead. This was done when she was 87 years old when the poor lady had no teeth.

There was no dentistry. If a tooth was bad, you went to the barber. He would give you a shot of whiskey to numb your mouth. Then he would get his pliers. Maybe he would wipe them on his pants leg or apron. Maybe not. Then, while strong men held you down, the barber would pull your tooth.

George Washington had bad teeth as a young man. He was handsome, if he kept his mouth shut. But as soon as he opened his mouth, there were all these terrible teeth.

Eventually he lost them all and acquired false teeth. He had some made of wood and others made of rhinoceros bone. They all HURT. At the time, the idea was “one size fits all”.

June 26, 2010

A Sad, Sad Love Story

Filed under: Uncategorized — grangerhomestead @ 10:32 pm

Written by Carla DeMeco, good friend and Docent for the Homestead

In Victorian days, if a woman was widowed young, it was the duty of her daughters to give up their lives and take care of Mother. The two daughters of Isaphine Granger, named Antoinette and Isaphine (for her mother) were good, dutiful ladies who did what was expected of them. Neither ever married. They spent their lives doing good works for their town and taking care of Mother.

Two sister

Antoinette and Isaphine Granger

The older sister, Antoinette, met a gentleman from Boston who wanted to marry her. His name was Phillips Brooks. Brooks was a theologian. He would become world famous as a speaker and writer. He wrote the words to ‘Oh Little Town of Bethlehem’.

Antoinette had to tell him “I can’t marry you, I have to take care of Mother.”

There are bookcases in the library. If you look in the second row from the window, you will see all of Phillips Brooks books. These books belonged to the family, so it is likely that Antoinette followed Phillips career.

She kept his photograph on her bedroom wall until she died at age 77.

Today, that photograph in the upstairs hall.

June 21, 2010

What to Helen Keller and Katherine Hepburn have in common?

Filed under: Uncategorized — grangerhomestead @ 2:29 pm

They both have a connection to the Granger Homestead Society. This blog post is provided by Dr. Craig George of Canandaigua.

Helen Keller’s Visit to the Granger Homestead Society

One wonderful document, framed, on the wall in the north bedroom of the GHS is a hand written letter from Helen Keller after her visit to The Homestead and Canandaigua. Ms, Keller is known world-wide as being both blind and deaf. Her story is one of the greatest stories of overcoming two of the most devastating handicaps one could face. Judge Cribb loved to tell of his meeting her when he was a young man. When you visit the GHS, be certain to see this remarkable small document.

Katherine Hepburn’s Mother and Aunt.

The great lady of the cinema, Katherine Hepburn, has a bit of history at the GHS. The story is told that her mother and aunt attended the Granger Place for girls. Please see the picture of the chemistry lab that is on the wall on the second floor gallery. Imagine teaching women chemistry in the 1890’s! Yes, the GHS has a history of progressive education.

June 10, 2010

Hadley, our four legged employee

Filed under: Uncategorized — grangerhomestead @ 6:07 pm

Bonny Kelly works in our Gift Shop with Hadley, her Golden Lab. Hadley is in training to be a guide for the blind. He a laid back pup with expressive eye who greets everyone with a kiss. I watched him go down the old, steep wooden staircase yesterday and his hind legs skated down swiveling back and forth but he kept close to Bonny.

Nick was here last year with Bonny. He was a friendly dog, much larger than Hadley. I remember the first day Nick was here. Bonny put his fleece bed on the floor with some toys and he was very content – until a squirrel ran across the door yard and he took off. The bed was moved away from the door and all was fine for the rest of the season.

Hadley came here in November when Bonny helped out with the Festival of Trees. He was just a cuddly bundle of puppy that slept most of the time in a cage. He has gotten larger, but his adorable personality still shows.

The Victor Post wrote and article about Bonny and Hadley.

We hope Bonny and her wonderful dogs stay with us for a long time. They are both a great addition to the Granger family.

June 7, 2010

Granger Place School for Girls

Filed under: Homestead — grangerhomestead @ 2:22 pm

The Granger family occupied the Homestead from 1816 until the fall of 1868 when a series of tragedies occurred.  Francis Granger died on August 28, 1868, and his son Gideon died six days after him.  As the home ostensibly failed as a safe haven for the Granger family, Isaphine (Mrs. Francis Granger) refused to live a day longer in the mansion, and her family moved to a nearby cottage in Canandaigua.  The house remained unused for eight years until the lawyer Walter S. Hubbell encouraged a new school for women to replace the defunct Ontario Female Seminary.  The abandoned mansion was a perfect, central location for a girl’s school, and the Grangers sold the Homestead to Caroline A. Comstock and her associates for $7500.  In order to create an exceptional place of learning, Comstock and her colleagues physicalled changed the Homestead drastically.

To the south of the central mansion, the three story Granger Place School Annex was built, designed to maximize the learning experience of the young ladies.

Miss Caroline A. Comstock. Perhaps the most dedicated contributor to the Granger Place School, Comstock oversaw many changes to the Homestead.  Among the most interesting changes that Comstock introduced were to the grounds.  In order to safeguard the “fair young womanhood” of the girls, Comstock built a large fence around the entire grounds and oversaw the addition of considerable amounts of foliage to keep away the Academy boys and “other interested folk.”

Samuel Cole Fairley. Amherst alumnae Fairley succeeded Comstock as principal of the Granger Place School in 1896.  Under Fairley’s management of the school, the grounds were changed significantly again.

Granger Place School with Fairley’s Renovations. In order to lure more affluent students to the School, Fairley attempted to dispose of the isolated, cloistered feel of the School.  He removed the large fence from the grounds and painted over the drab gray of the buildings with a soft, attractive yellow.  Fairley also renovated the inside of the School, installing new plumbing and paint.

Music Classes in the Victorian Parlour. Along with the library, music classes were taught on the main floor of the mansion.  Such rooms were also used to entertain guest lecturers and readers.

Art Classes. As part of a traditional liberal arts education, Art classes were taught to the young ladies on the main floor of the mansion.

Faculty Room. The second floor of the mansion was designed to house the faculty of the school.  As shown in the picture, the faculty often graded papers and prepared their lessons in their rooms.

Girl’s Rooms. The third flood of the mansion was expanded to allow ample housing for the resident students.  The girls were encouraged to decorate their rooms with all of the comforts of home, and they proudly hung GPS posters on their walls. The girls often developed strong academic aspirations from their classical liberal arts education at the GPS, and looked forward to continuing their educations at elite schools like Cornell.

Students in the Laboratory. On the second flood of the GPS Annex, girls learned the science of chemistry and physics.

Classroom. The main floor of the Annex was used as classroom space.  According to the image, the classrooms were quite spacious and well-lit, probably because of the new materials used in the construction of the Annex.

Acetylene Gas House. In 1904, the light fixtures of the GPS were converted from coal gas to acetylene gas.  This House was built to store the gas.  The girls of the GPS named their newspaper after this type of gas, perhaps because of the gas’ ability to illuminate.

“This institution had had achieved broad recognition in a day when education for women was in its pioneer status.”

– Article in the Ontario County Times-Journal, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Granger Place School.

June 1, 2010

Our horses

Filed under: Carriages, Sleighs, Horses — grangerhomestead @ 10:57 pm

I always get asked about the horses that pull the carriages and sleighs at the Homestead. These are all owned by our volunteer carriage drivers and are brought here when it’s time to take visitors on rides. Here is their story as told to me by Denett Pimkowski, our head carriage driver..

Shawn is an American Saddlebred. They are very graceful horses and have a comfortable ground covering walk. They were popular with country doctors, traveling salesmen, plantation owners—people who spent a lot of time on horseback and could appreciate a comfortable horse. Shawn is owned by Dr. Geoffry Hallstead and Geoff, Dawn and I drive him.

Flirt, Peter, Suzie, and Lucy are Morgan horses. Morgans were the first American breed of horses, dating back to the American Revolutionary war. Justin Morgan, a school teacher, bread his stallion to local Vermont mares for some extra money. He kept a diary of who he bred his horse to. All the offspring come out looking like the stallion (father), so after the war, Morgan’s diary became the foundation book for the Morgan Horse Society. Morgans are known for being a do-everything type of horse. Small Vermont farms were often a one horse situation, so the horse needed to be able to plow the garden, take the family wagon to town, get the family to church on Sunday and be ridden for errands. Many Morgans are both ridden and driven and have very sweet personalities. They are like the Golden Retrievers of the horse world.

I started the carriage ride program in 1998 with Flirt. She used to belong to Judge Cribb. When he owned her, he bred her twice and got Peter and then Lucy. I bought Lucy from Joe and when he died, Peter came to me. Lucy has been injured and not working at Granger recently. Suzie belongs to Sue Knauer and is also a Morgan horse.

Beauty is a Dutch Harness Horse. She belongs to Sue Knauer and just started at Granger for sleigh ride season. The Dutch Harness Horse was bred and developed in Holland to pull carriages. They have very flashy “action” which means that they naturally lift their legs high when stepping out at a walk or trot on a carriage


Filed under: Homestead — grangerhomestead @ 10:27 pm

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