By William Bradseth, Emily Conn and Marti Feyerabend
If you’ve been to Brockport, you may have caught a glimpse of village history from the corner of your eye. You’re headed north on Main Street and it catches your attention. The crisp white pillars, emerald green shutters, and classic red bricks stand out from the rest of the architecture in the village. You’re looking at the Morgan-Manning House, but its value, importance and history remains hidden inside.
Built in 1854, the Morgan-Manning House is now a museum run by the Western Monroe Historical Society. The society is devoted to celebrating, preserving and educating the community about the house and the local heritage of Brockport.
The Victorian Era house was purchased by the Morgan Family in 1867. The estate remained in the family until 1964, when a fire swept through the house. Sarah Morgan-Manning died as a result of the fire that had caused extensive damage to the home.
After the fire, Brockport Town Officials met at the Roxbury Inn to discuss what to do with the Victorian architecture that had been destroyed by the fire.
“There was an organization that wanted to buy it for a gas station, among other plans that were in the works. It was pretty heavily damaged. But these people got together and decided ‘no it is too valuable a house to go to a gas station,’” said President of the Western Monroe Historical Society, Gordon Fox. “They went door to door with a fundraising campaign and they asked everybody for anything, two dollars, five dollars… they raised $22,000.”
The house still stands today because it was Sara Morgan Manning’s wish that her home would remain in the village to commemorate the traditions of Brockport’s heritage.
Today, the Morgan-Manning house is operating solely on donations from the public and offers tours. The Western Monroe Historical Society offers a variety of events that are free and open to the Brockport community.
“Some events are fundraisers, and some are to educate the public about historical events. We also have programs for 4th graders in the Brockport school district. The value is to educate the public about the history of the Brockport area and the Victorian time period in this area,” said Office Manager of the Western Monroe Historical Society, Sandy Wright.
The educational programs run all throughout the year, but the society also offers many outdoor annual events.
“I live across the street from the Morgan-Manning House,” said SUNY Brockport senior, Kathleen Gibbons. “I always see events happening outside in the warmer weather.”
One of the Morgan-Manning House’s most popular events is the annual Fourth of July celebration.
“We get upwards of probably 600 to 800 people here over the course of the day. There’s a children’s parade we have around with tricycles and bikes that are all decorated for the Fourth of July,” said Fox.
Other events include Shake on the Lake, Candlelight Christmas, and Peddler’s Market. In April, the house offers an English Tea.
“We have usually upwards of 60 or 70 women here… They’re all dressed up with hats and [other Victorian attire],” said Fox, “We have some people from the other side of the city, the east side, and they come every year. There’s about eight or nine of them and they have a good time. They claim it’s one of the best teas in the area.”
“It gives people a chance to experience the Morgan-Manning House with the elegance of an afternoon tea,” said Wright.
Offering numerous events to the community allows the society to keep the Victorian culture that once was apart of the Brockport community, alive in the community today.
To learn more about the Morgan-Manning House and the many events put on by the Western Monroe Historical Society, visit their website.