The story of our beloved Farmhouse
February 27, 2018
For more than three decades, the MacKenzie-Childs Farmhouse has been the focal point of our 65-acre campus in Aurora, New York. The property is in the Finger Lakes region, on a hill that overlooks Cayuga Lake. It is truly a beautiful and special place that we love, and it has been featured on several of our products. In honor of our 35th anniversary, we thought it might be interesting to look a little deeper into the history of this iconic house.
Prior to being acquired by our founders in 1986, the Farmhouse was the centerpiece of a working dairy farm that was handed down through several generations of the DeShong family. The DeShongs came to Aurora in the late 1700s, when Henry G. DeShong, who was born in New Jersey, moved to the area from Philadelphia and established a grocery in the nearby community of Levanna.
It is believed that the Farmhouse was built around 1860 to 1870 by one of Henry’s sons, Valencourt DeShong, who might have been granted the acreage for military service. After Valencourt’s death in 1882, the house and farm were passed to one of his sons, Henry B. DeShong.
The property passed next to one of Henry B.’s sons, Roy C. DeShong, who lived in the Farmhouse as a child. Later, he and his wife, Edith, and their children, Georgiana and David, lived in a smaller house that was on the property closer to Cayuga Lake. Eventually, the Farmhouse and the surrounding acreage were sold to Winnie and Richard Wilkins in 1979.
The 3,300-square-foot, three-story Farmhouse is an example of classic Second Empire/mansard architecture, which was popular from 1860 to 1900, particularly in the Northeast. It shows many features of that style, including a mansard roof, decorative dormer windows, and porches with columns. Its interior was remodeled extensively in the early 2000s, but some of its original charming features remain, including the front doors and several sets of pocket doors believed to be black walnut.
The first use for the house under MacKenzie-Childs’ ownership was a showroom on the first floor, corporate offices on the second floor, and the textiles/sewing department in the attic. Today, the Farmhouse serves as MacKenzie-Childs’ company showcase and displays pieces that are current, retired or one of a kind.
Free tours of the Farmhouse are available year-round. Individual reservations are recommended but not required; reservations are required for groups of 15 or more (call 315-364-7123, ext. 1282). Labor Day through June 5, tours are given daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m.; June 6 through Labor Day, tours are given daily at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4 p.m. The tours are about 40 minutes long.
Our gratitude goes to several individuals who provided information about the Farmhouse and the DeShong family. They are: Jamie Drahos, granddaughter of Georgiana DeShong Drahos; Judy Furness, the historian for the Town of Ledyard; Dr. Linda Schwab, professor emerita of chemistry at Wells College and historian for the Village of Aurora; and Winnie Wilkins Murphy, former owner of the property.