The Gerrit Smith estate in Peterboro, New York, home to the well-known abolitionist Gerrit Smith (1797-1874), was a major resting-place for refugees from slavery throughout the antebellum period. The site has been termed "the Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad" because of the number of African Americans who passed through Peterboro with help from Smith and his family. The estate was located at the junction of several Underground Railroad routes through central New York. From Peterboro, the well-traveled paths ran into Canada via Lewiston, Rochester, Sodus Point, Fairhaven, Oswego and Cape Vincent. According to primary documents, Smith’s barn and kitchen were often used to house refugees.
In addition to Underground Railroad activities, Smith was a radical activist who made speeches, wrote essays, and donated money in the name of abolition. He led the New York Anti-Slavery Society in the 1830’s, and eventually ran for state and national office on abolitionist tickets from 1840-1860. Smith used his wealth to purchase the freedom of enslaved African Americans and entertained numerous abolitionists who came to the estate to discuss pressing issues and plan political action. Some of those freed by Smith eventually worked for him at his estate.
Visitor Information: Currently open to public.
Location: Main Street, Peterboro, 13134
National Park Unit: No
Ownership: Richard Bargabos
Location Type: Site
UGRR Operatives: Gerrit Smith