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Onondaga Historical Association celebrates their 150th birthday

The Onondaga Historical Association turns 150 this year. Friday night they hold a Jubilee Celebration in Syracuse University's Carnegie Hall that also marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The $80-a-plate benefit dinner will go towards OHA and the Black History Preservation Project.

In January 1863, the white and black communities of Syracuse came together to celebrate the abolition of slavery. That same year, the city's philanthropists established the Onondaga Historical Association.

“The community leaders realized that they were just beginning what looked to be a very serious, devastating Civil War. There was a general acknowledgment that history was being made,” said OHA director Gregg Tripoli.

The theme of the evening celebration is the Emancipation Proclamation, he said. Actors dressed in period costumes will greet guests, and a Civil War band will perform. There will also be a collection of President Lincoln memorabilia on display.

Tripoli says central New York played an important part in the Underground Railroad, a network of people who helped slaves escape.

“We were close to the Canadian border, we had access to waterways. Although yes, we were a real hotbed of abolitionist activity, there was certainly anti-abolitionist people here and movements as well,” he said.

Tripoli said the OHA has documented years of central New York history.

“You know, the Schubert brothers from Syracuse built Broadway as we know it today. And from Syracuse we got everything from the breach loaded shotgun to the gears that are used in most vehicles, to the person who invented the automated switchboard,” he said.