As Gerrit Smith’s land agent, friend and fellow abolitionist, John B. Edwards shaped Oswego’s eonomic and cultural development for over sixty years. For at least sixteen of those years he was a key helper on the Freedom Trail, arranging passage across Lake Ontario for fugitive slaves on the very least part of their journey to Canada. Documentation for use of the Edwards’ house as a stop on the Underground Railroad is remarkable, both for its detail and for the long time span it covers. The original Edwards letters to Smith which relate these underground activities are located in Bird Library, Syracuse University.
Edwards purchased the house in 1836, tow years after it was built, and owned it until his death in 1895. Greek Revival in style, the two-story building exhibits a gable end orientation to the street, post and beam construction, and a foundation of cut field stone. The modillions beneath the eaves are seen rarely in Oswego County. Before the Civil War, at the time of its greatest historic significance, the house was surrounded by open fields. After the war Edwards sold the adjoining parcels of Lot 108, Block 139; today the Edwards House sets on a 33’ wide lot, surrounded by homes situated on similar small plots.
Fortunately, the John B. and Lydia Edwards House retains its original form on its original site, and a feeling and association related to its historic period. Were they to return today, the Edwards family would surely recognize the house as their own.
Visitor Information: Currently not open to public.
Location: 144 East Third Street, Oswego, 13126
National Park Unit: No
Ownership: Richard Goodman
Location Type: Site
UGRR Operatives: Gerrit Smith,John B. Edwards,Lydia Edwards