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Historical marker unveiled at Hinchey Homestead

Messenger Post Media
A marker from the National Register of Historic Places is installed at the Hinchey Homestead. Pictured, from left, are Gates Supervisor Cosmo Giunta, Gates Historical Society board member Cindy Hinchey, GHS President Susan Swanton, Gates Historian William Gillette and GHS Past President Virginia Paddock.

The town of Gates recently installed a commemorative marker from the National Register of Historic Places in front of the Hinchey Homestead, 634 Hinchey Road.

The Homestead, managed by the Gates Historical Society, is the only site in Gates listed on the National Register. The sign was funded by a grant from the Pomeroy Foundation written by GHS board member Cindy Hinchey. Her husband, Wolcott, is a family descendent.

“The residents of Gates are so fortunate to have the Hinchey Homestead as a standing example of our rich historical heritage,” Supervisor Cosmo Giunta said. “Since its acquisition from the Hinchey family by the Gates Historical Society in 2002 and its transfer to the people of the town of Gates by the Society in 2004, the Hinchey Homestead stands as more than a simple symbol of history. It is a tangible place of historic value that serves as our glimpse into the lives and work of the citizens of our town who have gone before us and who established Gates as the wonderful community in which we live and enjoy today.”

The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior. It has been the official list of the nation’s historic places that are worthy of preservation since 1966. The National Register contains over 90,000 listings of historic districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering and culture.

“From the meticulous care of the homestead since the late 1800s by the Hinchey family to its operation as a historic site by the Gates Historical Society, and now with recognition of its place on the National Register with the installation of this commemorative marker, we have all experienced what we can accomplish when we work together,” said William Gillette, town historian.

For inclusion on the National Register, a property must be more than 50 years old and generally look the same way as it did in the past. It must be historically significant or associated with important people, events, activities and developments from the past. Architectural, engineering, archeological and landscape significance also are considered.

The Hinchey Homestead was accepted into the National Register in 1983, having been nominated by then-owner Harmon Hinchey, the last member of the Hinchey family to reside there.

The Homestead was accepted into the registry because of minimal changes made to the farmhouse since its construction in the 1870s, and for the importance of the site — home of the first clapboard house in the town of Gates — and Franklin Hinchey, who was a land and tax agent for the New York Central Railroad. He was an active leader in the town, serving as justice of the peace. The house, built in the Italian villa style, was designed by two ship’s carpenters.

“This house bypassed the 20th century,” said Susan Swanton, president of the GHS board of directors and past director of Gates Public Library. “Just to walk into the kitchen and see the old sink with the pump to raise water from the cellar cistern up to the attic vat takes you back in time to how our great-grandparents lived. Although built with indoor plumbing — just to be safe — the house was also built with a two-seater outhouse attached to the kitchen, all still intact.

“The town of Gates is so fortunate to have this living legacy of its past and even furnished with Hinchey family heirlooms that now belong to the Society. This is truly a historical gem to be treasured by future generations.”

Swanton said vacationers often include visits to National Register places to enhance their travel plans.

“Hopefully, the installation of this sign will attract more visitors to the town of Gates as well as add to local residents’ sense of pride in their hometown,” she said.

A ceremony will be held later this summer after fence restorations on the property.