By 1864, Mary Greeley was ready to move. For the past 10 years, the Greeleys had spent the summer months in a house deep in the woods of their 78-acre farm in Chappaqua. They had found it increasingly dark, dank, and remote. Furthermore, after the Draft Riots of 1863, when an angry mob had nearly burned down the office of the New York Tribune, they became concerned that their isolated home might be unsafe. So, in the spring of 1864, they seized the opportunity to buy a small house on Main Street (now King Street), right at the farm entrance. They enlarged it, rearranged the rooms inside, and moved in before the end of the year.
Horace and Mary Greeley continued to make it their summer home until their deaths in 1872. The following year, their daughters Ida and Gabrielle spent one last summer there, together with their aunt and her two daughters. One of these cousins kept a diary that was later published, and that contained a detailed description of the house. In recent years, this document proved invaluable in the restoration of the building.
One of the most well known families in New Castle, the Greeley family was prominent in both business and politics. Download the Greeley Family History PDF document to learn more.
The house remained in the possession of Gabrielle, who lived elsewhere on the farm, and rented the property to a succession of local families; after she sold it in 1926, the building became increasingly dilapidated. In 1945, it was in danger of demolition, when Gladys Capen Mills acquired it and transformed it into the Greeley House Gift Shop.
The property was acquired by the Swertfager family in 1959, and they erected a substantial addition to the rear of the building to house their expanded gift shop. The business continued in operation until closing in 1996. In 1998, the property was purchased by the New Castle Historical Society, and the historic portion of the house was restored as closely as possible to its original form, utilizing documentation such as the diary mentioned above. Furnished with appropriate antiques, including a number of Greeley heirlooms, the historic building has since 2000 served as the Horace Greeley House Museum and the Swertfager addition as the historical society headquarters.