John Brown Farm State Historic Site
John Brown Farm State Historic Site
John Brown's grave, 1896, S R Stoddard.
|Nearest city||Lake Placid, New York|
|Area||270 acres (110 ha)|
|NRHP reference No.||72000840|
|Added to NRHP||June 19, 1972|
|Designated NHL||August 6, 1998|
The John Brown Farm State Historic Site includes the home and final resting place of abolitionist John Brown (1800-1859). It is located on John Brown Road in North Elba near Lake Placid, New York, where John Brown moved in 1849 to lead freed slaves in farming. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1998. It has been managed by the state since 1896; the grounds are open to the public on a year-round basis, and tours of the house are offered in the warmer months.
Description and history
The John Brown Farm is located south of the village of Lake Placid, between the village of North Elba and the Lake Placid Airport, on John Brown Road (New York State Route 910M). The property is 270 acres (110 ha) in size, of which the northern third houses the developed part of the site, with the balance in now reforested hills. The developed area includes John Brown's farmhouse and barn, as well as a caretaker's house and other infrastructure for visitors. The family graveyard is also part of the site, encircled by an iron fence. A statue of John Brown, placed in 1935, stands nearby. The house is a 2-1/2 story timber framed structure, with a gable roof and clapboarded exterior. Its front is four bays wide, with the entrance in the left center bay, topped by a transom window. Most of the finishes, both interior and exterior, are restorations performed in the second half of the 20th century to bring about a c. 1860 appearance.
John Brown arrived in upstate New York in 1848, as part of a project funded by Gerrit Smith to assist freed slaves in the learning to become self-sufficient farmers. Pursuant to that end, he and his sons purchased this land in 1850. In 1855, Brown moved to Kansas to support his sons' efforts to keep Kansas as a free-state under the popular sovereignty laws, leaving his wife and several of his children behind. Brown returned to visit his family at Lake Placid several times. In 1859, Brown attempted to start a liberation movement among enslaved African Americans by seizing the arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia). For this, he was tried for treason against the State of Virginia and hanged. The family sold the property (except for the graveyard) in 1863. In 1870 it was purchased by journalist Kate Field, who formed an association to oversee its preservation and make it accessible to visitors. It was acquired by the state in 1896.
A cenotaph on the grave of John Brown was originally erected and inscribed for his father, Capt. John Brown who died September 5, 1776, while serving in the Continental Army, and originally sat at the elder Brown's gravesite in Connecticut until 1831, when it was replaced with a larger tombstone and moved to the younger Brown's farm in New York. The younger Brown had an inscription written for his son Frederick after Frederick was killed by pro-slavery forces at the Pottawatomie massacre in 1856 and buried in Kansas, and then directed before his hanging that the names and epitaphs of his sons Oliver and Watson be inscribed alongside his own on the cenotaph. The remains of Oliver and Watson are buried next to those of John Jr.
- List of New York State Historic Sites
- List of National Historic Landmarks in New York
- List of reference routes in New York
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. January 23, 2007.
- "John Brown Farm and Gravesite". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. September 11, 2007. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011.
- Gobrecht, Lawrence E. (November 21, 1997). "National Historic Landmark Nomination: John Brown Farm and Gravesite" (pdf). National Park Service. Cite journal requires
|journal=(help) and Accompanying 9 photos, exterior, from 1996. (1.59 MB)
- Official website
- New York History Net, John Brown's Farm
- Aboard the Underground Railway: John Brown Farm and Gravesite, at National Park Service
- Exhibit about Timbucto, the "Freed Slave Utopian Experiment"
- Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) No. NY-245, "John Brown Farm State Historic Site, Farmhouse, State Route 73 (North Elba Township), Lake Placid vicinity, Essex County, NY", 6 measured drawings