Smith Observatory

Smith Observatory (white) is shown at center. At left is the red-brick residence of observatory director William Brooks. During Brooks’s tenure the facility was known as the Red House Observatory, named for the residence.
Type: Officially Marked Monument Involved: Smith, William
Location: 620 Castle Street
Geneva, NY
Cause: Scientific Knowledge

Millionaire philanthropist and partly closeted freethinker William Smith erected this small but well-equipped observatory -- along with a comfortable brick house for its director -- next door to his own red-brick mansion in Geneva, New York, in 1888. Smith recruited astronomer William R. Brooks, who used the observatory’s 10-inch Warner and Swasey refractor telescope and 4-inch transit telescope to discover a great number of comets, bringing scientific fame to Geneva just as Smith had hoped.

Owned by Hobart and William Smith Colleges until 1974, the structure was privately acquired in 1974 and has since been restored.