WORK SCHEDULE. We were not able to find someone to dismantle the meetinghouse as per our original schedule, so we are working on Plan B. With the gracious agreement of the Farmington Town Board, we will stabilize the building beginning next week, document it as thoroughly as possible while it is still standing, and dismantle it later this summer. We are currently in the process of getting liability insurance for the building so that the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Foundation can (finally!) take ownership of it and work can begin. Many thanks to all who are making this possible.
CONDITIONS ASSESSMENT/BUILDING INTEGRITY. We are blessed to have the help of John G. Waite, architect, who came on May 9 with two people from his office, Bill Brandow and Jessica Malarik, to measure the building, do preliminary sketches, and take photographs. The building is 60 feet three inches x 47 feet in its exterior measurements. As per a suggestion by Mark Peckham, from the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, we are wondering whether this may be one of the largest (if not the largest) extant pre-canal buildings in upstate New York. Can anyone think of a larger one?
As the building stands, you can clearly see outlines of the old gallery on three sides. Pieces of benches, stair railings, the divider between men's and women's meetings, and other interior features are visible. We are delighted to know that much more of the original fabric of the building remains and can probably be saved than we had originally thought. So the extra time that the building stands will be very helpful for documenting the structure. Stephen Spaulding, of the northeast regional office of the National Park Service, has been extremely helpful with technical advice. Thanks also to Bruce Harvey, of Kleinschmidt Energy and Water Resource Consultants, who has taken HABS quality photos of the exterior of the building.
HISTORICAL DOCUMENTATION. Charles Lenhart and Helen Kirker videotaped an interview with Gus Wehrlin, who as a child witnessed the actual moving of this meetinghouse in 1927. They are also interviewing other local people who attended annual meetings of Friends ("Quaker Days") in this meetinghouse. We have searched the Accessible Archives database of African American newspapers for all references to Farmington. Charles Lenhart has also worked with local historians in Macedon and Margaret Hartsough of Farmington to find material from local newspapers and photographs. Christopher Densmore has contributed photographs and much printed material from Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore and from his own research. Local people have found references in family diaries to speeches in the meetinghouse by Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Susan B. Anthony. Several people have told us about benches, stoves, or other artifacts related to the meetinghouse. Many, many thanks to all of you who have shared this material. If others find references to the Farmington Meetinghouse, we much appreciate knowing about them.
FUNDING. Because much of the documentation for this building will take place before it is dismantled (instead of afterwards, as we had originally planned), and because much more can be saved than we had originally anticipated, we will have to spend money now that we thought we could defer until the building was dismantled. Upfront costs will be in the range of $75,000 or more, instead of $35,000 that we had originally estimated.
We now have potentially $25,000 (about $12,000 from private donations, $5000 from Heritage New York's Women's History Trail, $1500 from the New York State Council on the Arts, $1500 from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and, we are hopeful that we will have $5000 soon from another grant.)
The member item we have requested through Senator Nozzolio's office ($75,000) would be a wonderful step forward for this project.
We are also developing plans to raise money to rebuild the meetinghouse. We are looking forward to a creative combination of private and public monies and appreciate any ideas that any of you may have. All suggestions are welcome!
Donations large and small may be sent to:
Elizabeth Cady Stanton Foundation
P.O. Box 603
Seneca Falls, New York 13148
1816 Farmington Meetinghouse Fund
THANK YOU! Several interested people showed up to look at the meetinghouse on May 9, including Liseli Haines and her son Alex from Hamilton, New York, and neighbor Bob Wilton, who reported that a car had hit the southwest corner of the meetinghouse in an accident several years ago, which may explain why this corner was weaker than the others. Mr. Wilton also brought a marker with the name of John Van Lare on it. Mr. Van Lare is the farmer who moved the meetinghouse when it became a barn in 1927. One of the potato crates also had John Van Lare's name on it.
Thanks to everyone, including the Wiltons, the Stanton Foundation, and the Farmington Town Board, for your patience and your concern for this important building.
We'll keep you posted. If you are of Quaker persuasion, we ask that you hold all concerned with this project in the Light.