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John Brown's Farm State Historic Site

2 John Brown Road
Lake Placid, NY

Phone: 518 523 3900

Statement of Purpose

The home of John Brown, of Harper's Ferry fame, has been restored and furnished.

It's also the site of his grave, walking tours, and a very heroic statue of Brown.

In 1849, John Brown traveled to Peterboro to introduce himself to Gerrit Smith. Brown had heard of Smith's Adirondack land grants to poor black men, and proposed to relocate his family among the new settlers. His plan was to establish a farm where he could provide guidance and assistance to those who were attempting to establish communities in the area.

Smith accepted the proposal, and agreed to sell Brown a piece of property for $1 per acre, which was paid off in November 1849. Brown actually spent little time at the farm, as his attentions were soon distracted by the conflict that had broken out in "Bloody Kansas", as a result of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He did make occasional visits, however, up to the time of his raid on Harper's Ferry.

After his execution, Brown's wife returned his body to the farm for burial. The tombstone of Brown's ancestor, also named Capt. John Brown was inscribed with his name, as well as those of his sons who died at Harper's Ferry. Little else was added to the grave site for many years later. A photo, circa 1875 shows only the gravestone and the large boulder near it, surrounded by a wooden fence. In later years the graves of twelve of Brown's men were relocated to the site, a picket fence was erected, and still later the high iron fence that stands at present. The boulder was subsequently (around 1900) inscribed with Brown's name and the years of his birth and death. Plaques were added, memorializing Brown and his men, and the women of the Brown family, for their sacrifices in the cause of freedom.

Since 1895, the farm has been owned by New York State, and is maintained and staffed by the Department of Parks and Recreation. It is a popular tourist stop on the edge of Lake Placid, and recently celebrated 100 years as a State Historic Site. The outdoor interpretive displays provide photographs and descriptions of the men who joined in the raid on Harper's Ferry. The fate of each man is also described. While the interpretation offered is blunt, nothing at the site implies criticism of Brown or his motives.

Many of the later improvements to the memorial, including a heroic statue of Brown walking with his arm around the shoulders of a young African-American boy, were financed by a John Brown Memorial Association, no longer in existence. The preservation of the house and barn is managed by the state, which has also restored the house to its condition circa 1859. Some of the original furnishings remain, and other period pieces have been added to provide visitors a reasonable sense of the accommodations at the time it was occupied by Brown's family.

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