Roberson Mansion is well known in the Binghamton area. Attached to the Roberson Museum and Science Center, this Gilded Age home has all the trappings of wealth and status.
It was built for Alonzo and Margaret Roberson in 1904. Both were in their 40s when they decided to move from their Main Street home to Front Street. And they were willing to pay a lot. Before the mansion was built, there were two homes on the site. The Robersons purchased both, had them demolished, and built an Italian Renaissance Revival mansion in their place. This was an area where Binghamton’s elite were starting to create their own neighborhood. Though there were perfectly adequate properties with no homes on them just a block away, the Robersons made a statement with their home—money was no object.
Alonzo Roberson was a man “one generation from overalls.” His father, Alonzo Sr., was a carpenter who bought a local lumber business. It passed on to his son, Alonzo Jr., who grew it into an international business through the new industry of trains passing through the city. He, like many others of Binghamton’s newly wealthy elite, vied for a certain level of status and respect.
The home was a reflection of that quest for status: three floors with central heat and an elevator, 26 rooms in total, and 11 fireplaces. It required an entire staff of servants, as well. With no heir to give his legacy or name, it was suggested that Roberson turn his mansion into an educational center after his death. He insisted that it would carry his name.
Many of the grand homes that once lined Front Street are gone, but Roberson Mansion is one of the few that remain, preserved as a museum attached to the more contemporary buildings of the science center that also carries his name. (It’s also said that his ghost is in residence.) And so Roberson is still well known in town. But it wasn’t just the desire to be remembered that motivated the Robersons, as they were often cited for their low-key generosity. There’s more than one account of the Robersons paying for the medical bills of their lumber employees, and they donated anonymously to various charities throughout their lives.
Know Before You Go
There is parking available off Front Street, in the Roberson Museum and Science Center parking lot. The space is wheelchair accessible. If you want to go into the mansion, you'll have to pay museum admission.