East of Montezuma and midway to Skaneateles is the town of Auburn, which, though larger than Seneca Falls, doesn't have quite the charms of its neighbor; it does, however, possess a handful of historic sights. Chief among them is the Willard Memorial Chapel, 17 Nelson St. (tel. 315/252-0339; www.willardchapel.org), the surviving piece of the once-grand Auburn Theological Seminary, built in 1818. But this Romanesque chapel holds a treasure: an interior designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, apparently the only existing example of a complete and unaltered Tiffany interior. The series of stained-glass windows, including a nine-paneled Rose Window, and leaded-glass chandeliers are stunning. The chapel is open Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 4pm; suggested donation is $3.
The Seward House, 33 South St. (tel. 315/252-1283; www.sewardhouse.org), is a National Historic Landmark and former home of the 19th-century statesman who served as U.S. secretary of state, U.S. senator, and New York governor. The handsome 19th-century home is very nearly a national library, so extensive is its collection of family artifacts, historical documents, and items collected from the life and travels of William H. Seward. Seward was known principally for negotiating the purchase of Alaska, derided in the press at the time as "Seward's Folly," and as Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State, attacked and seriously stabbed by a would-be murderer as part of the conspiracy that felled Lincoln. The museum is open mid-October to December 31 and February through June, Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 4pm; from July to mid-October, it's also open Sunday from 1 to 4pm. Admission is $7 adults, $6 seniors, $2 students 10 to 17, free for children under 10.
The Underground Railroad -- After passages of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850, even the free states of the North were considered unsafe for runaway slaves. The Underground Railroad, the secretive lines of communication and safe houses that carried many slaves along a very dangerous path from the South to freedom in Canada, was active throughout central New York State. Many stops were in the Finger Lakes region. Auburn was home of Harriet Tubman, a former slave who conducted more than 300 people to freedom. The Seward House in Auburn was also an important stop on the Underground Railroad. Frederick Douglass, abolitionist and publisher of the newspaper The North Star, lived in Rochester and is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery there. For more information on the Underground Railroad in New York and principal abolitionist activists, see www.nyhistory.com/ugrr/links.htm.
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