Seneca Falls Museum: A Community Time Capsule
By Jasmine Willis
SENECA FALLS — This remarkable home captures the history of the entire community within its walls.
The Seneca Falls Historical Society Museum is housed in the Becker Family homestead. It got its start as a one-room wooden house in 1823. It was Edward Mynderse, son of Col. Wilhelmus Mynderse, who erected the two-story brick structure in Italianate Style in 1855. It was from there on that this home had a rather impress history on its own.
The Mynderse Family lived there until 1875. It was then sold to Mrs. Leroy Partridge who began an extensive remodeling and updating that changed the two-story dwelling into the three-story, 23 room, Queen Anne Style home that you see today. Architectural and decorative details which were added, include painted and stained-glass windows, gas lights, carved fireplaces and the entire third floor.
The mansion was sold to the Norman Becker Family in 1890, who raised six children in the house. The Becker’s lived there until 1961, when the Historical Society bought the building. The house as we see it today has undergone no major changes since the 1880’s. Florence Becker was the last member of the family to live in the home. When she moved to Boston, Mass. she sold the house to the society for $20,000.
On June 12 Seneca Falls Historical Society board member Ginny Konz gave Jasmine’s Corner a tour of this community time capsule.
“Edward Mynderse did a lot to build up Seneca Falls. He was responsible for several mills. There is still an academy in his honor. He donated land for the first high school, Methodist Church, and Presbyterian Church in Seneca Falls,” she said. “There are a lot of items here from the Mynderse, Partridge, and Becker families who once lived in this house. Most of the furniture you see is from the Becker Family.”
Konz mentioned how a table set came all the way from the White House that was given to the Secretary of State William Seward by Mrs. Abraham Lincoln. It now rests in the museum for all to see.
Norman Becker had passed away due to illness at sea and was never heard from again by his loved ones. This news left a large ache in the hearts of the large family of six children.
“You will find a lot of portraits that came from people’s attics in the museum. They were donated to us and are part of the Seneca Falls history,” Konz said. “People began to donate all sorts of things to us when we took ownership of the house in 1961.”
The kitchen remains the same as it had from the old days. The Becker Family never changed it once they took over ownership. Once you walk in to see an old iron kitchen with an old-fashioned ice box for perishables it really takes you to another time period.
Konz said the Seneca Falls Museum has a rather extensive historical library on the premises that is often used for research and genealogy.
“One of the most prized possessions in the museum is an authentic American Revolutionary War Red Coat. We had the Cpt. John Haigh 33rdBritish Infantry Red Coat donated to us recently,” she said. “He had a really remarkable story to go with the donation. We were very excited to get it.”
Grace Woodworth, a famous Seneca Falls photographer took all the historic photos of
Susan B. Anthony and other figures important to the time period. Her camera is now part of the museum, as well as some of her photographs captured in time.
Another room takes you to the important industries of Seneca Falls such as the wool mills. The last wool mill shut down two decades ago in the area. During WWI they had to keep up with the high demand of wool socks and blankets.
An important artist, Ron Gage, came to Seneca Falls in the 1980s to build an exact replica dollhouse of the home. It is one of the highlights of the museum for the younger visitors.
Another special exhibit came from a Seneca Falls man who collected many things such as arrow heads, Boy Scouts memorabilia, old toys, and military memorabilia. He donated his entire collection to the museum to be on display as it is.
As you walk up the stairs to the different rooms that connect each part of the town’s incredible history you will see checker board designs on each landing. This was done to entertain the Becker’s children as they enjoyed playing checkers.
For more information and to plan a visit to this museum visit their website at