The Wadsworth family recently opened its historic homestead on the edge of the village for private events and functions. After beginning their restoration project earlier this spring, Will and Louise Wadsworth have begun their journey to build a business around the estate.
“We’re not here to just make money, but also to maintain the property and make this place a destination,” said Louise Wadsworth.
Revolutionary War Commissioner and General Jeremiah Wadsworth acquired the land and appointed his nephews, William and James, as the agents for the property. William and James built the homestead in 1800, making it the third establishment built in Geneseo.
“We really want this to be a place for the community to meet, a way for the community to participate in and be a point of pride,” said Will Wadsworth.
Will Wadsworth is the general manager of Sweet Briar, a bed and breakfast located on Route 63, as well as the Geneseo town supervisor. Louise Wadsworth is also heavily involved in the Geneseo community, serving as the downtown coordinator of the Livingston County Development Corporation.
In their efforts to restore the estate, the Wadsworths sought outside assistance from organizations in the area.
“We’ve worked with the State Historic Preservation Office, or SHPO, and the Landmark Society in Rochester, [N.Y.],” said Will Wadsworth. “Both pointed to the things we need to change and what to keep.”
“Any reservation idea we have we’re sure to run by them,” he said.
With any establishment as old as the homestead, however, there are challenges to overcome due to the dynamic nature of building codes.
“The code is written to make it possible for places like this to exist,” said Will Wadsworth. “How can we make it as close to the code as possible and still safe.”
“For example, we might not get to use the third floor,” he said. “We’re going forward with creativity and finding ways to make things work.”
Despite the challenges, the Wadsworths said they are hopeful in regards to the successful integration of the homestead as both a business and a preserved historic landmark. The homestead has already served as the site for two weddings.
“It all happens in stages,” said Louise Wadsworth. “But we can show it and build it as we go.”
The Wadsworths are currently working with associate professor of communication Mary Mohan’s COMN 200: Theory and Practice of Public Relations to establish business and marketing strategies to maximize the estate’s potential.
“Bringing it up so that it looks good without taking away what’s there: That’s the challenge,” said Louise Wadsworth.