About the Oswego County Historical Society

The Mission

“The Oswego County Historical Society (OCHS) is a non-profit corporation organized with a mission to discover, to collect, to preserve and to interpret materials and objects germane to the history of Oswego County, to sponsor writings, publications, and to promote public interest in Oswego County’s historical resources.”

The Oswego County Historical Society was founded in 1896 and officially incorporated through an act of the New York State Legislature. It is subject to the guidelines of the New York State Board of Regents under the New York State Education Law. The first founding board of trustees originally organized a celebration to recognize the 100th anniversary of the evacuation of the British from Fort Ontario and Oswego in 1796. This was a momentous event in local history. After the success of the centennial extravaganza, prominent citizens in Oswego decided to establish a permanent organization focused on local history.

Since that time the society has preserved and promoted the history of the greater Oswego community for over a century. It has collected and maintained thousands of artifacts, photographs and manuscript collections that document the county’s rich history. In 1946, the historical society received the generous gift of a historic 19th century Tuscan Villa style residence to serve as a permanent headquarters and public museum. Since that time the society has owned and operated the magnificent Richardson-Bates House Museum, a landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum is located at 135 East Third Street in the Washington Square Historic District in the city of Oswego. This distinctive residence offers a unique glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of a prominent Oswego family. It also serves as a museum dedicated to interpreting the vast history of the people, places and events of Oswego County through exhibits and educational programs.

Struggling for the Past: How the OCHS board saved the Richardson-Bates House Museum for Oswego County

19th Century Rendering of the Evacuation of the British from Fort Ontario in 1796 by Oswego artist Charles H. Grant. The original painting hangs in the Oswego County City Hall.