If you see a large old Quaker Meetinghouse being moved sedately across a field and road in Farmington, New York, don’t be alarmed. Saved from demolition by a group of concerned citizens five years ago, the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse will be moved to its new home at 230 Sheldon Road on November 9, 2011.
The public is invited to a ceremony to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event at Farmington Friends Meetinghouse, 187 County Road 8, at 11:00 o’clock. Peter Jemison, Historic Site Manager of Ganondagan, will open our program with a traditional Haudenosaunee thanksgiving ceremony. Drive to the Friends Meetinghouse along Sheldon Road, to avoid crossing the intersection with County Road 8. (From exit 44 on the Thruway, travel south on Route 332, turn east on Route 96, north on County Road 8, east on Holtz Road, and north on Sheldon Road.)
Built to hold 1000 people, the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse is most likely the largest frame pre-Erie Canal building in western New York. It regularly hosted Quakers from all over western New York; Ontario, Canada; and Michigan until its sale in 1927 to a local farmer, who moved it 325 feet down the road to its current home on County Road 8.
In February 2006, a windstorm blew the east wall off the Meetinghouse. A group of local citizens made a heroic effort to preserve and restore this structure. Part of the long-range plan involves moving the building from its current privately owned site to a new home across the road.
The 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse is nationally important for its role in movements for equal rights for women, African Americans, and Native Americans. The country’s first women’s rights convention, held at Seneca Falls, New York, in July 1848, would not have occurred without support from these Quakers. Farmington became an active site for abolitionist organizing and Underground Railroad activity. Seneca people came to this Meetinghouse in June 1840, forging an alliance with Quakers nationally to save some of the lands officially lost under the fraudulent Treaty of Buffalo Creek, preventing a “trail of tears” for the Seneca such as that suffered by the Cherokee who were forced to move west.
Famous Americans such as Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, and the Edmondson sisters—all African Americans who escaped from slavery—spoke and lived in Farmington. Nationally important women’s rights leaders such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony spoke in Farmington. Seneca leaders such as Jimmy Jemison, Seneca White, Daniel Two Guns, Samuel Gordon and Cayuga Peter Wilson met with Quakers from Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Genesee in the Farmington Meetinghouse.
Reflecting its national significance, the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom, and is a member of the National Collaborative of Women’s History Sites and the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.
Funders include New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund, the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom, the Rochester Area Community Foundation, and many private individuals and foundations. The Preservation League of New York State and Canandaigua National Bank have made this project possible through bridge loans. Architects for this project are John G. Waite Associates from Albany, New York. Movers are Wolfe Brother Movers from Bern, Pennsylvania.
Donations of all sizes are most welcome and may be sent to:
1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse
P.O. Box 25053
Farmington, New York 14425
For more information, call Judith Wellman, Coordinator, 315-598-4387 (cell 315-529-7808); Helen Kirker, President, 585-526-6897; Lyle Jenks, 585-393-0037; or Bill Brandow, John G. Waite Associates, 518-449-5440. Website: www.farmingtonmeetinghouse.org.