Edwin W. and Charlotte Clarke built this large brick Italianate residence in Oswego’s historic Oak Hill section in 1857. Well-known abolitionists, they constructed what appears to be a hidden room or hiding place for slaves in the basement. Situated behind the furnace, one small window opens under the front steps, a 5" x 8" passthrough permits food exchange, and a low door permits actual entrance into the "hidey hole".
While Clarke’s interests ranged from history to law to horticulture, his anti-slavery activities must have absorbed most of his time. He attended numerous anti-slavery meetings, signed petitions, distributed anti-slavery tracts, and wrote letters the editor, attempted, at one point, to rescue a female slave off a canal boat. Clarke died in 1884 and was buried in Riverside Cemetery, Company Route 57; his grave marker reads: "Just fearless humane…He gave the best of his years and powers to the relief of the oppressed and to the aid and succous (sic) of slaves escaping from bondage, having in all he did the effective sympathy and cooperation of his devoted wife."
Visitor Information: Currently not open to public.
Location: 31 Varick Street, Oswego, 13126
National Park Unit: No
Ownership: Frank and Ruth Sayer
Location Type: Site