Many of these sites are private homes and not open to the public. However, there are some interesting places where visitors can learn more about this dark chapter of American history and how civic leaders and everyday residents across Oswego County came together to better their communities.
The Oswego Public Library is one of the most prominent Oswego, NY attractions for people to visit and learn about the Underground Railroad. Gerrit Smith, a prominent abolitionist from Peterboro, donated the money to build the library in Oswego with the provision that it be open to all men, women and children regardless of “race, complexion or condition.” Built in the grand style of a Norman castle in the mid-19th century, it is now the oldest public library in America still housed in its original building. Visitors can view this historic space and its Underground Railroad exhibit.
Of the Oswego attractions listed on the National Register, the Buckhout-Jones Building is another architecturally interesting building that graces the Port City’s skyline. With Gothic and Queen Anne design details, the building once housed the barbershops of two fugitive slaves, Tudor E. Grant and Charles Smith, from the 1850s to the 1880s. Today, the building houses the Children’s Museum of Oswego, a fun and innovative space for kids of all ages to play and learn.
Other sites listed on the National Register that people can visit include the Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum in Mexico. It was here that Clark, an activist and tinsmith, and his wife Harriet held meetings with other abolitionists and provided refuge to freedom-seekers. Another site is the Bristol Hill Congregational Church in Volney. Established in 1812, this church had both black and white members, many of whom were active in the Underground Railroad. Both of these sites are available for viewing by appointment only.
Historically, there have always been many things to do in Oswego, NY. Come out and explore this rich heritage.
Learn more about the 11 Underground Railroad sites in Oswego County that are recognized by the National Register of Historic Places here: