It may be startling to you if you spent some time as a child at Erie Canal Village in Rome to see how far the living history museum appears to have deteriorated.

we are not allowed to move these items to safety

Once owned by the city and developed by the state to recreate the feeling of the mid 1800s when the Erie Canal, which began in Rome, was the superhighway for commerce across New York and linking the Great Lakes to New York City, Erie Canal Village recently fell into a period of neglect. The new owners of the facility shared shocking photos on Facebook recently of the conditions at Erie Canal Village, which as been re-branded as the Empire State Heritage Park.

The photos below show water damage that occurred to items stored in Shull House, a Victorian mansion on the property that had a leaky roof. Another building on the property, Cosby House has a crumbling foundation and is in danger of imminent collapse.

Most frustrating to those seeing the photos of the neglected and damaged historical artifacts (including the damage to an historic 15-star American Flag) , is that Erie Canal Village is handcuffed in what can be done with them. While they own the property, they don't own the historical items, so they can not move them to safety, explaining on Facebook,

While we are not allowed to move these items to safety, we have been covering and protecting them as best we can....The city owns the artifacts. We have been asking them to remove these items for 8 months, so that we can work on the buildings, but they keep coming up with reasons why they can't.

The new owners are continuing to work on the park with the goal of returning it to a condition worth of the rich history it represents.

Rome Historical Society Board of Trustees President Talks Erie Canal Village

The president of the board of trustees at Rome Historical Society took to the People and Places of Rome Facebook page to share his thoughts on Erie Canal Village. The statement reads, in part,

The Rome Historical Society bears absolutely no responsibility for the deplorable condition of the Village, the buildings, and the vast collection of the artifacts there. In fact, all of us at the Society are as disgusted and saddened as anyone else by the conditions at The Erie Canal Village. The Village, for a number of years, has been privately owned and in that time the Society has had no direct contact with the owner and only a cursory relationship with his management team.

The Rome Historical Society has been asked by the City, and we immediately agreed, to conduct an inventory of the thousands of artifacts at the Village. It has been since then that the Society staff has developed an inventory process. It must be noted that the Society, in being responsible for the inventory, is also responsible for the volunteers performing the related tasks. Further, it is in everyone’s interests and in the best interest of the collection, for the Society to ensure that all volunteers are appropriately enlisted and assigned.
This spring the Society was allowed to thoroughly inspect the buildings and grounds at the Village and it is the Society’s firm position that none of our staff and volunteers will begin the inventory until the principal parties are in agreement on a number of issues, beginning with safety and liability.

You can read the full statement here.

Photos from Erie Canal Village

A Visit to Erie Canal Village