An ordinary window screen is something we take for granted today. But this simple item brought the industrial age to Cortland, New York.
Born in 1843, visionary businessman Chester Wickwire opened his first business, a grocery store when he was just 22. The grocery store transformed into a hardware store.
To pay off a debt, a farmer offered Chester a carpet loom. Chester accepted the barter, and converted the loom from weaving cloth to weaving wire. The wire material could be used to make many important household items – window screens, flour sifters, strainers. The sky was the limit.
Chester patented his loom invention, and built a factory, taking up 40 acres. The Wickwire Factory became Cortland’s largest employer, and was the second largest wire material manufacturer in the world.
In 1888, Chester started construction on a grand mansion.
Completed in 1890, the magnificent house was built of limestone and used ornately carved cherry and oak woodwork throughout. Original stained glass windows and parquet floors are prominent. Lions adorn the family crest and are found throughout the home. The 1890 House at 15,000 square feet spanning four floors is a masterpiece of Victorian and Gilded Age design.
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The 1890 House