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ONLINE: Living History: Brockport is an Open-Air Museum

by Alexandra Weaver-Lifestyles Editor
Tue, Sep 5th 2017 06:00 pm
Photos taken by Emma Misiaszek/PHOTO EDITOR
The Morgan-Manning House is a restored Victorian house as well as the location of the Western Monroe Historical Society
Photos taken by Emma Misiaszek/PHOTO EDITOR The Morgan-Manning House is a restored Victorian house as well as the location of the Western Monroe Historical Society
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Brockport is a unique town. Construction began in 1822 after land developer, Heil Brockway learned the planned route of the Erie Canal. The town was incorporated in 1829, after the canal was completed. The canal was great for business. The town experienced a period of swift growth, experiencing a population increase of 60 percent between 1830 and 1840. By 1840, Brockport became an industrial economy, with several of its own iron foundries.
Because of this intense period of growth in the 1800s, many of the buildings standing in Brockport today are historical landmarks. The town's historical society has done a fantastic job of preserving the town's historic beauty and keeping the town's story alive.
Perhaps the best example is the Morgan-Manning House, which is connected to the Western Monroe Historical Society. When the historical society acquired it, it was in disrepair.
"The historical society rescued this house," Sandy Wright, the Office Manager of the historical society said.
Today, the Morgan-Manning House is fully-restored and packed with ornate Victorian furniture, clothing and housewares. The house is open for tours, which anyone can take advantage of or private tours which are available by appointment.
The tour is worth making a phone call. Stepping inside of the house is like stepping into the past, into the lives of a family that has long passed. The items in the house teach us a lot about what life was like in the 1800s. From old books to old curling irons that could burn hair off, the artifacts inside the Morgan-Manning House truly are precious insights into the past. Wright also confirms that they love getting student visitors.
The Morgan-Manning House isn't the only historical location throughout Brockport. In fact, there are so many that in 2002, The New York State Education Department gave the town a charter to develop a community museum. Other history centers include the Capen Hose Fire Museum, the Emily L. Knapp Museum, the Seymour Library and the Sweden Farmer's Museum.
The Capen Hose FIre Museum features all kinds of old fire equipment and machinery, including a Selye & Porter Hand Pumper from 1847, a Silsby Steam Engine from 1876 and a functioning Gamewell Fire Alarm.
The Emily L. Knapp Museum doubles as a library of local history. The building was the original site of the Seymour library. The museum has frequently provided our students with anthropology internships and has collaborated with the college to create several exhibits, including the Bibles of the Knapp Museum Collection, the Hair Wreaths in Victorian Brockport collection and the High Street Cemetery Tour.
There are many other historical sites scattered throughout the town. There are exhibit cases, interpretive panels and historical plaques that all serve to educate the public about local history. The Brockport Community Museum's website includes a map of each location.
The town is a historical jewel waiting to be uncovered. Just taking a walk through town is taking a walk through a rich and unique history. Anyone in the mood to learn outside the classroom can drop by one of the many museums. Each is carefully tended by passionate people who would love to share their knowledge. For something more casual, plan a walk around town and read the plaques displayed on the numerous historical landmarks. It's surprising how much can be learned about what was happening 150 years ago on the same streets people walk down today.