Looking Back, Moving Forward
We had big plans for 2020, but the year turned out to be much different than anyone expected on January first. That the restoration of this historic building has continued in spite of the obstacles is a tribute to the resilience of the all-volunteer staff. Last month, temporary metal cladding was added to the south and east sides of the building, to protect it while the plans for permanent siding are finalized (see photos below).
While the COVID crisis forced some volunteer non-profits to shut down entirely, Meetinghouse program committee chair Kathy Hendrix and team salvaged three of our planned series of programs on “Struggle for Women’s Suffrage: Politics and Race”. In cooperation with partner organizations Sonnenberg Gardens and Granger Homestead, we successfully presented three programs, one live and socially distanced, and two virtual. All three events were recorded and were available for streaming until the end of the year. Judith Wellman’s talk on “Suffrage, Race and Quakers: Principles v Pragmatism” is still available. To view this program, click here.
In December, outgoing president Lyle Jenks welcomed five new members to the board of trustees. Forced to meet by Zoom, the board turned that into a positive by recruiting members who would find it difficult to travel to in-person meetings. See below for a list of the 2021 board.
Incoming president Dr. Judith Wellman, one of the individuals who initially saved the deteriorating building from certain demolition, is currently guiding the effort to secure a substantial new federal grant that if approved will dramatically accelerate the building’s reconstruction, starting in July.
Many residents of fast-growing Farmington are surprised to learn about the starring role this humble building played in the national debates that swept 19th century America. As one of the few places in 1800s western New York that could hold hundreds of people, the meetinghouse was host to famous reform leaders like Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and William Lloyd Garrison. Those who gathered in this historic meetinghouse more than a hundred years ago helped to secure land for Native Americans, rights for women, and freedom from enslavement for African –Americans. We continue that legacy of equal rights advocacy in our work today, highlighting our heritage and connecting it with similar issues of social justice today.
(An earlier version of this article, written by board member Reg Neale, ran in Daily Messenger on December 19, 2020.)
To make a contribution, please click the Donate button. Your support is greatly appreciated, and helps us sustain this organization, as well as make improvements to our beloved Meetinghouse.
Historic Structure Report
This year we hope to take major steps to continue restoration of the 1816 Meetinghouse and move without pause to its completion in the following months. To that end we are pleased to share with you the full Historic Structure Report that serves as a blueprint for the restoration and tells the story not only of the building but of the people, the Quaker community, who created its legacy as a national site of conscience and a cornerstone of movements for equal rights. Issued by the architectural firm John G. Waite Associates, it is a professional documentation of our project, compiling technical facts, drawings and photos, historic records and a prose narrative of the history.
To access the document, please click on the PDF logo to the left.
2021 Board Members
Mary-Kay Belant — Willie Bontrager— Dave Bruinix — Joan Bryant —Florence Cardella — Matthew Cooley — Carole Elaine Deys —Peter Evans — Doug Fisher — Kathleen Hendrix — Charles Lenhart — Ann Morton — Reginald Neale —Barbara Popenhusen —Diane Robinson — Sue Stehling —Stacey VanDenburgh — Judith Wellman
Black Lives Matter
We agree with other member organizations in the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience that silence in the face of injustice is unacceptable. As we mourn the death of George Floyd, we join our voices with all others who are calling for peace, justice and equality for all. We look forward to the day when all lives matter in America, and that day will come only when Black Lives Matter. Our mission at The 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse Museum derives from the 19th century members of the Meetinghouse. A small Quaker community in rural New York witnessed, and often led, reform movements that changed democracy in America—especially for Native Americans, African Americans and women. We keep their legacy alive as we promote the same values and goal today; their legacy is our inspiration and provides our direction.
As the African American civil rights leader and Quaker Bayard Rustin once said: “When an individual is protesting society’s refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity on him.”