Casey’s Cottage Opens Memorial Day Weekend – Oswego County Today
MEXICO, NY – After a hiatus of a year and a half, due to COVID-19, Casey’s Cottage will finally be open to the public again.
Admission will be free of charge (though donations are much appreciated) Saturdays and Sundays 2 to 4 p.m. or by appointment beginning Memorial Day Weekend and continuing through the Labor Day weekend, as well as the Monday of Memorial Day weekend and the Monday of Labor day Weekend, also from 2 to 4 p.m.
Casey’s Cottage, nestled among the trees near the former mouth of the Little Salmon River at Mexico Point State Park, is truly a “gem.” Across the lush lawns to the west of the cottage is the stone foundation with magnificent ship chains along the entryway.
It is all that remains of Orville Hungerford’s elegant Mexico Point Club House (1906). Guests were met at the train station in Mexico and brought to the Club House by horse-drawn carriage, and the horses were stabled in the carriage house. With the advent of the automobile, horses were no longer used and the carriage house was no longer needed.
William Casey, a frequent summer visitor to Mexico Point Club House and a professor at Columbia College asked if he could transform the carriage house into a medieval manor house, with the help of his close friend: Severin Bischoff, an artist who had studied wood carving in Germany.
Together, and with the help of Casey’s university students, they built a moat, installed stained glass windows, and carved every wall, floor and even ceilings with images of people and designs inspired by the medieval period of England. William Casey provided the means and Severin Bischoff provided the designs.
Walking into the cottage, and after one’s eyes adjust to the inside light, one has the feeling of walking into a work of art.
The luxury hotel burned down and was rebuilt twice. The third time the hotel burned, it was not rebuilt, and all that remains is the stone foundation and fireplace. Casey’s Cottage did not burn, but was long neglected, until Grace Roop petitioned the State of New York to turn the property into a State Park and enlisted and founded the Friends of Mexico Point Park.
They cleaned up the Cottage, restored the carvings, and repaired the interior stained glass windows, and opened the Cottage for tours by the public. They also commissioned the carving of “The Park People”, a series of five wood carvings of people representing how the area has been used during different periods of history, all the way back to the Revolutionary War.
Just before the Cottage was closed down for the winter of 2019-2020, we completed a big project to restore the stained glass windows in the “moat” area with designs submitted by Oswego County residents, and partly funded by grants from CNY Arts and from The Shineman Foundation. The designs chosen for the 18 embrasures or narrow windows are in keeping with the cottage’s medieval character.
Since the Cottage was only open for one weekend after the last window was installed, most people have not yet seen all of the completed windows.
Our project for last spring (also partially funded by CNY Arts) is a the latest “Park Person” – a newly created chainsaw carving of William Casey himself, sitting on a bench reading a book in the corner of the “moat.” Chainsaw artists Jon Vincent Antonuk and Adam Mulholland completed the carving in May 2020 and it has not yet been seen by the public because of the pandemic closure.
Now everyone will be able to see this marvel and have the experience of sitting next to a life size carving of the founder and creator of the cottage.
Visiting the cottage is free, but we are much in need of donations as we have been unable to hold large fundraising events last year or this year, and so have had to pay for a large part of the new stained glass windows, the statue of William Casey and the Cottage’s new roof out of our savings. Notecards made from images of the stained glass windows and of the William Casey carving will be available for a donation.
Please remember that COVID-19 is still with us, and though many have been vaccinated, many others have not. For your safety and that of others, mask wearing will be required as will screening at the front door. The number of people that can be accommodated in the Cottage at one time is limited.
Private tours with some restrictions are available by appointment— call (315)-529-1589 to inquire. For more information please visit the website MexicoPointPark.com.