When you walk inside the doors of the Seward House Museum, it is like stepping back in time as if William Henry Seward himself just left for the day. The Seward House Museum displays one of the most original collections of any historic home in America. Our collections are an invaluable historic asset for historians, artists, and the public alike. Even Doris Kearns Goodwin, when referring to the Seward House, stated, “I keep telling everyone that it is one of the most treasured museums in our whole country.”
We work each day to inspire curiosity and foster learning about the 19th century through the lens of the William H. Seward family. Your gift will support a national treasure, allowing us to continue providing dynamic and meaningful experiences today and for generations to come.
2016 Seward House Museum Highlights
200 Years of History
This year, the Museum celebrated 200 years of history at the house on 33 South Street. That house, now recognized as the Seward House Museum, was built in 1816 for Judge Elijah Miller on a four acre plot of land. The Judge invited William H. Seward to become a partner in his law firm in 1823. A year later, after Seward married the Judge’s daughter Frances, this became his home too. Though this is not the 200th anniversary of Seward’s association with the House, it is the beginning of the many stories we share with visitors to the Museum. This anniversary allowed us to share stories surrounding the early days of Auburn and the fascinating role Judge Miller played.
New Visual Identity
On June 3rd, the Seward House Museum launched a new visual identity which included a new logo and website. The logo was inspired by William H. Seward’s monogram that is seen on many of his belongings throughout the Museum. Although nothing can replace an actual visit, the Museum views this new website as an experience parallel to that. This website opens up new ways to explore and share the Museum’s collection of Seward Family art, historic house objects, books, and artifacts.
Second Year of Cayuga Museum Partnership
Last year, the Seward House Museum collaborated with the Cayuga Museum of Art & History on the exhibition entitled Untold Stories: Treasures from the Seward Family Collection. This year, the Museum continued that collaboration through the creation of History’s Hometown Architecture Tours. Each walking tour was led by staff members from both Museums, with a special emphasis placed on select neighborhoods in Auburn.
The Museum held a summer camp, #CampSeward, at the beginning of August. This two day Victorian day camp included activities such as a luncheon and high tea with costumed interpreters of the Seward Family, 19th century outdoor games, gardening, and arts & crafts. The Auburn Doubledays, Cayuga Museum, and YMCA also joined our campers for an exciting game of Town Ball.
Designed just for 4 & 5 year olds, Mr. Seward’s Junior Detective League was a hit! This program was a unique 30 minute experience that offered some of the Museum’s youngest visitors a chance to explore the first floor, following clues that led to distinctive artifacts. Once the Junior Detectives cracked the case, they were given a certificate to celebrate their success!
2016 has been an exciting year for guest speakers at the Seward House Museum. All of the speakers have added to our celebration of 200 years of History at 33 South Street.
In March, the Museum was thrilled to host Yale Professor Caleb Smith. Smith discussed and signed copies of his latest book, The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict, which also coincided with the 200th anniversary of the State Prison in Auburn.
In April, the Museum welcomed renowned Civil War Historian Robert May, who gave a presentation entitled “Thoughtless Lapse or Power Grab? William Seward’s Bid to be President, April Fool’s Day 1861.” May’s presentation focused on one of the most bizarre chapters in Abraham Lincoln’s relationship with William Seward.
To wrap up the summer, the Museum was pleased to have Jeanne Theoharis speak about her most recent book, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks. It was an eye-opening discussion about Park’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement beyond the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The Museum also welcomed Catherine Kerrison. Kerrison’s lecture, “Harriet Hemmings, Thomas Jefferson & the Pursuit of Happiness,” covered her most recent research regarding the Hemmings side of the Jefferson family and her search for the illusive Harriet. She gave her lecture to a sold out crowd with standing room only.
50 Great American Places with Brent Glass
This fall, we were pleased to host Brent Glass, Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, as our 2016 Elsa Soderberg Distinguished Speaker.
Glass discussed his most recent book, 50 Great American Places. In his review of the book, David McCullough commends Glass for not only traveling to each and all of the fifty historic sites he describes, but to another hundred or more to write this book.
Attendees hung on Glass’ every word as he discussed his experience and the importance of each site to American history. Everyone who attended this event enjoyed themselves and added a few new places to their travel bucket list.