EPIP Profile: 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse
Project Name: 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse Relocation, Farmington
Borrower: Friends of the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse
Loan Date: 2010
Project Description: An EPIP loan to purchase the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse, which was in danger of collapse. The building was relocated and continues to be restored.
Use of Funds: Acquisition
Loan Status: Repaid in full.
Project Status: The property was stabilized, moved to a secure location, and is in the process of being restored. It is the site of seminars and speeches by leaders in the fields of equality and human rights.
As a crucible of major reform movements, the walls of the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse once echoed with debates over freedom and equality for women, Seneca Indians and African Americans in upstate New York and the nation. Farmington Quakers helped organize the first woman’s rights convention at Seneca Falls in 1848, successfully arranged a compromise treaty in 1842 allowing the Seneca to remain on their Allegany and Cattaraugus homelands, and worked closely with the Underground Railroad network to assist freedom seekers.
Quakers settled in the Farmington area in 1789, and built their first meetinghouse in 1804. By 1816, the congregation was so numerous that they built a larger meetinghouse across the road. In 1927, they sold the 1816 meetinghouse, and the new owner moved it 325 feet north of its original position, where it became a storage barn. The building began to fall into disrepair in the 1990s, and was nearly razed in 2007 as a public safety hazard. Now stabilized, the building will be moved this year to a nearby site to facilitate public access.
This structure is a powerful reminder of the chorus of voices – irrepressible, resonant and persistent – that cried out for social justice for women, Native Americans and African Americans. The loss of this building would have ripped countless pages from the history of this community, the Empire State, and the nation. The Preservation League is delighted to support the efforts to preserve this building, so it may continue to illustrate the story of these struggles for equality and freedom.
The 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse Museum, a 501c3 organization, will restore, preserve and interpret the building as an educational and tourism center, reaching out to people of diverse ages and backgrounds to educate about the importance of the building and the area in national reform movements, inspire visitors to explore the meaning of equality and justice in their own lives, and enhance economic development in the region through heritage tourism.
“The EPIP loan is of immeasurable help in preserving and restoring this nationally important site,” said Judy Wellman, Chair of the organization’s steering committee and Professor Emerita at SUNY Oswego. “People in 19th-century New York State made remarkable contributions in shaping the identity of America around the ideal that all people are created equal. This Meetinghouse helps tell their stories. It is a beacon that shines from the past into the present and future, challenging all of us to carry out ideals of democracy. It would not be saved without this help, and we are immensely grateful.”