The Richardson-Bates House was built in two stages as a private residence for Maxwell B. Richardson, a local attorney, real estate broker, civic leader and two-term mayor of Oswego. In 1867, Max commissioned Rochester architect Andrew Jackson Warner to design the Tuscan Villa style residence for him and his family. The house was actually an addition to the Richardson family homestead built in the 1840s that once stood on the property. A lifelong bachelor, Max lived here with his widowed mother Naomi Richardson, his divorced sister Harriet Richardson Bates and her son Norman Bates.
In 1887, the homestead was demolished to make way for a new south wing completed in 1889. The opulent interior decor reflects the 19th century Victorian fascination with art, culture, education and history.
Norman Bates was the sole heir to the Richardson family and inherited the house in 1910. He lived here with his wife Florence and their four children, Betty, Norman Jr., Sally and Max. After the death of Norman’s widow Florence in 1945, her three surviving children donated the house and 90 percent of the original furnishing and contents to the Oswego County Historical Society for use as a public museum in memory of their family.
Today the Richardson-Bates House remains one of the most intact house museums in New York State, which also features an extensive archival collection and exhibit space documenting the history of Oswego County. Visit to learn more about of the life and times of a fascinating Oswego family and the history of the place where they lived.
From Left to Right, Harriet Richardson Bates, Maxwell Richardson, Naomi Richardson and Lawrence Richardson, Photograph taken August 1889, by Norman Bates.