underground railroad

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO

Churches play a vital role in any community. A symposium was held on Saturday to raise awareness of the role church buildings play in downtown Syracuse, since both occupied and vacant properties impact the neighborhoods.

The Mission Restaurant in downtown Syracuse was built in the 1840s and used to be the Syracuse Wesleyan Methodist Church, which was part of the Underground Railroad. The Hotel Skyler on the Syracuse University campus was a synagogue before it was renovated with green energy and environmental design standards.

What made Upstate New York such a hotspot for the abolitionist and women’s rights movements?  Was it just geography, or was it something about the people who lived here?  Historian Judith Wellman, an expert on the Underground Railroad and the women’s rights movement in the 19th century, answers this question and offers other stores and information that illuminate this time period and counter some of the stereotypes we have about our region’s place in history.