November 26, 2012
Tin Shop Was a Key Gathering Place for Abolitionists -
Oswego County Underground Railroad Interpretive Center Opens Dec. 1
The Mexico Historical Society will host an open house Saturday, Dec. 1, at 2 p.m. at the Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum on Main Street, Mexico. The building was a meeting place for abolitionists when it was owned by Starr Clark, a tinsmith, during the decades before the Civil War.
MEXICO - The Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum will open its doors to visitors at an open house Saturday, Dec. 1 at 2 p.m.
The building at the intersection of state Routes 104 and 69 in the village of Mexico was a known site of abolitionist activity during the decades preceding the Civil War. Constructed in 1827, it is believed to be the oldest mercantile building in Oswego County. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.
The Mexico Historical Society acquired the building and, led by village residents Jim and Brenda Hotchkiss, raised funds to restore it and plan exhibits for an Underground Railroad interpretive center. The group received a New York State Environmental Protection Fund grant and local matching funds to help finance the project.
The museum will feature tinsmith�s tools and tables and an interpretive kiosk on the Underground Railroad provided by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Additional items will be added as renovation continues and more rooms are made ready for visitors.
The building's exterior has been restored to appear as it did in the earliest known photograph. The foundation was rebuilt, front door was moved back to the center of the building, roof and windows were replaced, and the original white pine paneled walls and floors were restored. Richard and Leslie LaCrosse, owners of Antique Log Homes of Parish, are doing the interior renovations.
Jim Hotchkiss said the open house coincides with the Christmas in Mexico holiday celebration of church bazaars, a farm market and sales throughout the village on Dec. 1. A more formal dedication ceremony will be held in the spring. The public is invited to attend.
Jim Hotchkiss (left) and Rich LaCrosse admire the hand-hewn white pine beams and floor at the Starr Clark Tin Shop on Main Street in Mexico. The building is being restored by the Mexico Historical Society and will house displays about the Underground Railroad. The historical society will host an open house at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1.
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