About MCHS

The Madison County Historical Society’s mission  is to preserve, collect, promote and exhibit the history of Madison County and its fifteen towns and one city through the development of programs and events that enhance the county’s heritage for the people of Madison County and those studying the county’s heritage. The society’s headquarters, Cottage Lawn, located in Oneida, is an 1849 Gothic Revival Villa designed by prominent architect Alexander Jackson Davis. Cottage Lawn is preserved and operated as an historic museum.


The Madison County Historical Society, located in Oneida, NY, is housed in a beautifully designed  19th century Gothic Revival Villa designed by Alexander Jackson Davis who felt that architecture should be in harmony with nature. The brick masonry home has a stucco façade and the characteristic Gothic Revival architectural features of gothic pointed gables, steep high pitched roofs, and carved verge boards.   Also on the grounds is  a board and batten carriage barn.

The museum is furnished with period pieces from the Higinbotham collection along with Madison County artifacts presented throughout the 19th century home.

The Madison County Historical Society welcomes visitors into the Gothic Revivfacade-oldal Villa home of banker Niles Higinbotham. Construction of the residence, named Cottage Lawn, commenced in 1849 and was completed in September  of 1850 upon the birth of Niles and  Eliza Higinbotham’s first daughter, Julia. Mrs. Eliza Higinbotham and two of her three daughters, Lily and Louise, were among the 64 MCHS charter members that established the Madison County Historical Society. The  historical society’s first meeting was held on April 20, 1898.The society adopted its articles of incorporation on October 19, 1898 and received its charter from the New York State Board of Regents on March 29, 1900. On June 15, 1934 the society officially opened its doors to the public. By 1984, the society was placed on the State and National Register of Historic Places for its outstanding Gothic Revival Architecture.

(left to right) Lily Higinbotham, unidentified, Julia Higinbotham, Edith Goodwin Baker.

(left to right) Lily Higinbotham, unidentified, Julia Higinbotham, Edith Goodwin Baker.

Today, the society carries on the 64 charter members’ collective vision of  preserving the county’s past for the future through the documentation of the mid-19th – 21st century history of Madison County’s 15 towns and one city. The society also operates  the Mary King Genealogical Research Library named after Mary King in 2002 for her twenty-two years of volunteer service the historical society helping families with their genealogy.

The Higinbotham’s had three daughters, Julia, Louise and Lily. It was Louise (pictured on left), the last surviving Higinbotham daughter who bequeathed her family’s home to the Madison County Historical Society in 1931 along with $20,000.

The Higinbotham’s had three daughters, Julia, Louise and Lily. It was Louise (pictured above), the last surviving Higinbotham daughter who bequeathed her family’s home to the Madison County Historical Society in 1931 along with $20,000.

Come tour the historical society’s 5,706 square foot home that has two parlors, dining room, library/trophy room, kitchen with butler’s pantry, vault, children’s room, grandmother’s room, servant’s room and  changing exhibit room. View what life was like in the Victorian period and learn about Madison County’s heritage. Also, on the grounds in the agricultural barn is an  exhibit on hop culture in Madison County.