Your Hometown: Schroeppel Mansion
Before the 1800s, most of Oswego County sat untouched. However, as settlers and businessmen packed up and headed west, Central New York underwent a transformation. In this week's edition of Your Hometown, our Candace Hopkins takes us to the town of Schroeppel, and the centerpiece of the town, the Schroeppel Mansion, where time has stood still.
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In the early 1800s, most of Oswego COunty was made up of vast wilderness, inhabited only by small groups of settlers and Native Americans. Before long though, land speculators moved into the area, including a Prussian businessman named George Casper Von Schroeppel, after he purchased 20,000 acres of land north of the Oneida River.
"He acquired that land, then put it up for sale in blocks, so that they could get citizens in there, build houses, so forth," said Kenneth Wayne Sweet, local historian.
Von Schroeppel believed that with the right marketing, he could transform the desolate area into a vibrant town, which prompted him to move from New York City up to his Oswego County land in 1815.
"It doesn't take very long to make changes in the wilderness. They cut down trees, they cleared the land, they start plowing, they raise a crop for a couple of years, people begin to see the land is good," Sweet explained.
Von Schroeppel set out to be the first example of just how good life in Oswego County could be, immediately beginning construction of his massive dream home, nestled on the banks of the Oneida River.
Sweet said, "Schroeppel's house is Greek revival, like the ancient Greek temples, and the columns were just fabulous, you look at those, and those houses around, there aren't too many like it today."
The grand home was built to attract visitors and settlers alike to the area. The construction was completed in 1818, and was the first frame home in the town. Von Schroeppel went on to marry and have four children, while running his business and farm from the property. He died in 1829.
Schroeppel finally became an official town in 1832, by an act of legislature that set more than 26,000 acres off from Volney. Today it remains a quiet farming town, and the Schroeppel Mansion has withstood the test of time, with the help of extensive renovations. Although it is no longer a farm house, the current owners, Steve and Anne Hutchins, run it as the River Edge Mansion Bed and Breakfast.
"It still has all of the details, they're still here, the moldings, the hand-made shutters, and everything still works beautifully. It's still in great shape," said Anne Hutchins, Rivers Edge Mansion Bed and Breakfast Owner.
The house still features the original layout, molding, doors, and working locks.
"One of my favorite things that I show a lot of the guests is what I think is a very large skeleton key that we found in the locks in one of the front doors, and it works the lock on the front door to the house, and the side door heading down to the water," said Steve Hutchins, Rivers Edge Mansion Bed and Breakfast Owner.
The Hutchins' also work to keep another tradition alive, the calming life of cruising the river with their own river boat tours.
"Life was quieter, life on the river was more pleasant and slower and just the feeling of wanting to just slow down," said Anne.
If you are looking for a place to take it easy, Schroeppel remains a tranquil community from which to glance back in time.