Genesee Country Village & Museum is the largest and most comprehensive living history museum in New York State, and the third-largest in the United States. The campus includes the historic village (mansions & homesteads, merchants & services, churches & schools, tavens & town halls), the John L. Wehle Gallery, green spaces, a ball field, and an expansive nature center with miles of walking trails.
18th Century History Lessons
Experienced museum interpreters in period dress share the story of each home or activity while you explore. What’s fascinating is that the houses are all from different time periods or cultures, which you can see moving from the pioneer homesteads to the mansions. The stories about each family or merchant or heritage are so varied!
The lay of the land
There is a trolley available with multiple stops throughout the village. The parking lot and entrance are located at the bottom of this map, the softball field at the top. Most of the main events and activities take place in the Village Square or Great Meadow.
Genesee Country Village Square
The village square is located in the heart of the complex, surrounded by homes, businesses and churches, and plays host to the smaller activities like pie eating contests, games & performances.
Genesee Country Village homes and businesses
Structures have been relocated to the village over the course of many years from different places throughout the Genesee Valley. Single structures like the Livingston-Backus House moved from the City of Rochester’s Third Ward, while multiple structures were moved from Brooks Grove just south of Mount Morris. They’ve been brought together with dozens of others to form an 18th century village that might have been.
As you move throughout the village you move through time and socioeconomic diversity. From homestead farms to octagon-shaped mansions, from German immigrants to Spiritualists, there is a rich story that unfolds.
Nathaniel Rochester’s last home in the city was torn down in 1901 to build the Bevier Memorial Building at Spring & Washington Streets. His Dansville home, however, was relocated to the Genesee Country Village & Museum, now just down the street from George Eastman’s boyhood home.
The interiors of each home and business are filled with period decor, and in some cases the authentic pieces from the original owner! The stories of each family are diverse and interesting.
The Great Meadow
Features the gazebo and surrounded by restaurants (former train depots), an art gallery, gift shop among other buildings, is the center stage for activities like the major Civil War battle reenactments.
The John L. Wehle Gallery
“Home to one of the finest collections of sporting and wildlife art in America.” The Gallery is located near the entrance to the village and is a fantastic place to cool off on a hot summer afternoon!
Genesee Country Nature Center
During the summer months, the Genesee Country Village & Museum hosts themed events on the weekends like History On Tap, Highland Days, Civil War Days, and a Fiddlers Fair. In the wintertime, things quiet down with Yuletide in the Country tours, a Holiday open house, and Sunday strolls.
In the spring, it’s all about Maple Syrup. In the fall, Trick-or-Treating in the village. In December, Yuletide in the Country is a fantastic way to get into the holiday spirit while learning about Christmases past.
During the weekdays in the summer, it’s business as usual, and sometimes these are my favorite days to enjoy the village. Sometimes it’s quiet, other times there are 700 summer camp kids experiencing the village for the first time. Both are uniquely wonderful to experience.
Naturalization Ceremony on the 4th of July
Each 4th of July (except 2020), The Genesee Country Village & Museum hosts a Naturalization Ceremony for roughly 50 new American Citizens. It reminds me that the path to citizenship is paved with hard work and determination.
The ceremony is quite a thing to witness. It is also a day-long celebration of all-things-America: pie eating contest, sack races, a parade; as the museum website says, “pageantry, marching bands and merrymaking”.
Winter in the Village
When there are no special events, for example Maple Sugar Weekend, the nature center and village are open on Sundays during the winter months.
The buildings are all closed, but you can enjoy a quiet walk along the village streets. Check in at the Nature Center first, with a recommended $5 donation.
From the Genesee Country Village and Museum website, “Our 700-acre complex consists of 68 historic structures furnished with 15,000 artifacts to provide an authentic, 19th-century environment in which visitors can interact with knowledgeable, third-person historic interpreters in period-appropriate dress. Visitors experience how life in small towns has changed over time through engaging and enjoyable encounters with the stories, objects, buildings and environments of Western New York.”
Cost: There is a fee for general admission and special events
Located in Mumford, roughly 35 minutes / 25 miles from Rochester (get directions)
More information: gcv.org/
Listen to the enriching OnCell tour while you’re there, before you go, or after you visit.
Rather than an escape, I prefer to think of these as transcending places that encourage us to transcend space, time, and state of mind.
When is your favorite time of year to visit the Genesee Country Village & Museum?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!