Oswego’s founder, Edward Austin Sheldon purchased eight acres of lakeshore land for Shady Shore in 1856, paying a total of $2,000. “It was my ideal site for a home,” he writes in his autobiography.
In fact the site gave him so much pleasure, he wrote, “I have sometimes thought the day I took my axe and went into the woods for the purpose of laying out my drive was about the happiest one of my whole life.”
Sheldon describes the house as being “somewhat peculiar in its structure. I put up a light frame and embedded it in concrete.
“This made a very warm and durable house. It was built in the fall of ’57. The next spring we moved into our new quarters. Here we were destined to live until removed by death.”
From 1919 to the beginning of the 1930s, the house was only used for storage.
Upon moving in, President Ralph Swetman had the stone porch put on and changed the rooflines, adding a second story in the back. He removed the gingerbread trim of the home whose look had not changed since it was built in 1857.
Shortly after World War II, Swetman became ill and moved to Florida. To help with expenses and to provide company for his wife and daughters, he opened up the home for married veterans and their families.
Since Swetman, every college president has lived in Shady Shore and made their own mark on its décor.
The Stanleys pulled up rugs and refinished the hardwood floors, freshened the home with new paint and renovated bathrooms to accommodate the needs of a family with two young daughters.
All work was done with campus personnel, and the Stanleys walked around campus and picked out furniture that was not being used. The furniture shop then reupholstered all the pieces, including 14 dining room chairs from the set that once stood in the Kingsford Mansion and were purchased by the college in the 1930s.
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