Statement of Significance (as of designation - January 3, 2001):
The Gerrit Smith Estate is significant for its association with Gerrit Smith (1797-1874), a figure of national prominence in politics and social reform movements. Smiths wealth and numerous business ventures gave him the financial means to fund extensive reform efforts, mostly pertaining to abolition and temperance. Smith engaged in the abolition movement through active involvement in national Anti-Slavery societies, reform through political involvement, the Free Church movement, education reform, and land reform. He openly defied the Fugitive Slave Act, providing a widely-recognized safe haven in Peterboro for refugees from enslavement en route to Canada. The estate was also an important gathering place for abolitionists interested in discussing the issues of the day and planning political action.