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SUBMITTED by Bonnie Hays, Historic Palmyra (5-Apr-2010)

You may ask, "Who or what is Historic Palmyra?" Historic Palmyra is a non-profit 501-c-3 state-chartered educational organization that owns and operates four amazing museums that lie just steps from the Erie Canal on Market and William Street in Palmyra, New York. These museums have history from 1789 up to today. Historic Palmyra was founded in 1843 and is celebrating its 167th year of collecting and celebrating history.

Our first museum is the Alling Coverlet which opened on July 4th, 1976. It is housed in the old Palmyra Courier Journal Building at 122 William Street. Having three display rooms this museum houses the largest collection of hand woven coverlets in AMERICA. In America, what an amazing accomplishment. The Alling is named for Mrs. Merle Alling and the building was donated by Mrs. Agnes Griffith, one time owner and president of the Palmyra Courier Journal newspaper.

The hours of this museum are June 1st to mid-September 1-4 daily. A well stocked gift shop offers woven goods, books, puzzles and souveniers.

Inside the Alling Coverlet Museum

Historic Palmyra's next acquisition was the Palmyra Historical Museum located at 132 Market Street--formerly named the "Old St. James Hotel"--which was moved as part of the historic preservation plan of Historic Palmyra. 23 rooms will supply your history appetite with artifacts and archives. Each room is themed and offers amazing facts and stories of the Erie Canal, business, people and events. This year's theme features 1800 through 1850 and all that happened in our community, county, state, and country.

Our William Phelps General Store and home is just down Market Street and is an original Erie Canal store which was open for business from 1826 through 1976. Acquired in 1977 this building has remained as it was in the 1880's kept by owner William S. Phelps. This general store--although frequently copied by many--is totally original and authentic with original products, furnishings, gas lights, and architecture. There are eggs left from the store's closing in 1940 and the residue of 108 years of the Phelps family continue to fill the store and home. You will never see anything like this treasure that has survived 184 years. Come and meet Sibyl Phelps who was the last living resident of the Phelps family.

The front window of the Wm. Phelps General Store on Market Street in Palmyra--peek in for a step back into history

Phelps General Store and home, three stories of 184 years of life, business, and events along the Erie Canal

Attached to the Phelps is the Palmyra Print Shop which features printing presses and cutters made in Palmyra from 1856 to 1923 by the John M. Jones Company. Also featured are the type and print blocks from the Palmyra Courier Journal from 1838. History through type is an amazing way to discover the happenings in the old days. The Market Street museums are filled with hands on items, each holding its own particular story. Hours are 11-4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday from October to May and from 11-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday from June 1st to October.

If you haven't seen one of Historic Palmyra's four museums it's time you experience these original pieces of history. The admission rates are reasonable and your tour guides will make your experience memorable. A full research library is available. Check out our web site at www.historicpalmyrany.com or call (315) 597-6981. Come on down to our special events like the Ice Cream Social June 17th with our grand opening of the year's exhibits. This is a no charge community event and offers tours and ice cream sundaes for all. We have a great calendar of events this year check our web site for details.


Wm. Phelps General Store, Palmyra Print Shop, Palmyra Historical Museum, and Alling Coverlet eagle

The four Palmyra museums in black and white


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