Update 6

April 16, 2006

Hello Friends! Here is an update on the Farmington Friends' Meetinghouse.
1. TRANSFER OF THE MEETINGHOUSE TO ELIZABETH CADY STANTON FOUNDATION. Many thanks to the Stanton Foundation of Seneca Falls for its willingness to assume ownership of this building while we are looking for a permanent home, and many thanks to the current owners for working with us to make this possible. We hope to have this building transferred by the middle of next week.
2. CONTRACTING WITH MOVERS. At this same time that we transfer the building to the Stanton Foundation, we hope to sign a contract with the contractor who will dismantle the building. Jack Waite, architect, has prepared performance specifications. These are being publicized, and bids are being solicited from interested contractors.
3. RAISING FUNDS. We need about $35,000 to carry out the initial phase of moving and documenting this building. Thanks to the help of private donors, Heritage New York Women's History Trail, and a technical assistance grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, we have now raised $16,200. We are actively soliciting further grants and welcome--most heartily--your contributions as private donors! Many, many thanks for whatever you can do!

Contributions may now be sent to:
*Elizabeth Cady Stanton Foundation*
* P. O. Box 603*
* Seneca Falls, New York 13148*
* Attention: Francis Caracillo, Treasurer*
* Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse Fund*

4. WONDERFUL LETTERS OF SUPPORT! We received three beautiful letters of support--from Old Chatham Meeting; Lyle Jenks of Philadelphia; and Christopher Densmore, Curator of Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore. We passed all of these out at the Farmington Town Board meeting last Tuesday, and they are all appear here as comments to this page. Marie Parsons of Rochester Meeting also wrote a lovely evocative essay, which is now on our website. Thank you all so much fo these!
5. Diane Plassey Gutierrez and Marie Parsons are working on a brochure to help publicize the meetinghouse project. This should be available soon for downloading and printing. We will be meeting Lyle Jenks of the Chace Fund of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (to which we have applied for funding to help document this building) at the meetinghouse tomorrow (Monday, April 17) morning at 10:00 a.m. All are welcome to join us.
Stay tuned! We will keep you posted with breaking news! Thanks for everyone's help, in every way.

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Quaker Web Weaver said...

Dear Judith Wellman:

Thank you and many others for the work that you have been doing to save the Farmington Meetinghouse. As you know, I was one of the principal editors and authors of QUAKER CROSSCURRENTS: HISTORY OF THE NEW YORK YEARLY MEETINGS (Syracuse University Press, 1995). I also, in addition to being curator for the records of New York Yearly Meeting, as well as Philadelphia and Baltimore Yearly Meetings, serve on the board of the Friends Historical Association and Conference of Quaker Historians and Archivists and write the section on Quaker historical research for the journal QUAKER HISTORY.

I think I have some standing as an historian of the Society of Friends, not just for New York State, but for North America generally. That being said, of the many Quaker sites in New York State, I find Farmington the most interesting locality, and the 1817 meetinghouse the one structure that tells the story not only of Quakers, but how Quakers have had a profound influence on the modern world.

Historians find the past interesting, but it is also important to ask whether a place or event in the past has only local interest or whether what went on made a difference to the development of the nation. Quakers have stood for religious toleration, for the equal treatment of men and women, for the abolition of slavery, and for the peaceful resolution of conflict. All of these "testimonies" are reflected in the history of the Farmington Meetinghouse and specifically in the 1817 structure. It was at Farmington that many of the people who would at Seneca Falls in 1848 call for women's rights decide, a decade earlier in 1838, to remove all distinction based on sex from the "discipline" of Genesee Yearly Meeting. Perhaps no change in the past two centuries has had a greater impact on the way we live now that the change in relationships between the sexes from one of exclusive male authority to one where responsibilities are shared between husband and wife, and women as well as men have a voice in the determination of public policy. Farmington was a focal point in the anti-slavery movement, and many of the most important leaders of the anti-slavery meeting spoke in the meetinghouse. The principles of equal treatment, regardless of race, that motivated Farmington Friends in the early 19th century only began to be addressed at the national level in the United States in the mid 20th century. Perhaps we haven't made as dramatic strides in the peace testimony, but there is still hope.

Good luck in all your efforts.

Christopher Densmore, Curator

Quaker Web Weaver said...

Dear Judith Wellman -
I send Friendly greetings, and share a sense of excitement -- and a deep trust -- that way will open for current efforts to yield the desired result of our being able to save the 1816 Farmington Meetinghouse for future generations. The commitment to this project by Friends in Old Chatham Monthly Meeting, where I was present for Monthly Meeting on First Day, is both heartening and, I feel, indicative of the widespread concern and support which Friends and many others will offer once they learn of the urgent need to actrively work to preserve an important site in our religious and civic history.
As a member of the Chace Granting Group of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, I look forward to meeting with you next week, during the moring of the 17th. Could we meet at the site at 10:00 am and then perhaps adjourn to the Farmington Friends Church for further conversation? I would need to depart by about 11:30 to return to Philadelphia. While I cannot presume to know the decision of our Granting Group when we meet on I Fifth Month to consider the request for funding, I already know that I will be a strong advocate for full funding of the request. In their general concern for advancing peace and justice, and in their particular desire to assist women and minorities in achieving equality, Elizabeth and Anna Chace would certainly have supported the causes of abolition and women's suffrage which were so eloquently addressed by those gathering at the Farmington Meetinghouse during the years when it served as the meetinghouse for Genesee Yearly Meeting. Were time and distance not impediments, I truly believe that the Chace Sisters would have been present to hear the likes of Frederick Douglas and William Lloyd Garrison - and Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott!
Were I able to attend the public hearing in Farmington this evening, and were I recognized to speak, I would state my conviction that it is of great import that we work together to somehow preserve this historic building, which is of great import not only in Quaker history but in the history of upstate New York and hence our national life. Were it only of historic Quaker relevance, then perhaps we Friends could take some photographa and let it go. But it is because that what is represented by this building speaks to the best of our civic vision of a just and fair society that we are compelled to document and reconstruct the Farmington Meetinghouse. It is a silent witness to a vision of "liberty and justice for all" that is as current as today's headlines; it represents a witness which we must preserve to remind this generation and future generations of the challenge and imperative to continue working, risking, and witnessing towards that society which affords peace, freedom and justice for everyone.
I look forward to meeting you next week and to working together in this critically important effort.
Lyle Jenks 
Lillte Grey Schoolhouse East Hollow Road, Bristol Township
Member of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Chace Granting Group (215) 241-7225

Quaker Web Weaver said...

Old Chatham Monthly Meeting Of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

524 Pitt Hall Rd.
Old Chatham, NY 12136-3410

10 April 2006

Dear Members of the Farmington Town Board,

It has come to our attention that the Farmington Town Board is considering the demolition of the historic meetinghouse that served Genesee Yearly Meeting and other Quaker bodies from the early 1800s to the early 1900s. We are writing to urge the Town Board to provide sufficient time for Quakers and other interested parties to raise funds and otherwise prepare to dismantle the building and rebuild it on another site.

There are many of us from afar with an interest in saving this important piece of Quaker and U.S. history, and we would be most grateful for your support.

Spee Braun, Clerk
On behalf of Old Chatham Monthly Meeting