The falls meant water power, and mills and factories sprouted up early in the 19th century to make use of this power. A small connector canal to the Erie Canal insured there was a way to transport the finished goods, and business boomed. Rapid industrialization led to social change, and here in Seneca Falls, as in much of western New York, people gathered to express their dissatisfaction with various social ills or conventions--slavery, drinking, and established religions. But, it was nearby Waterloo that a group of five women having tea first discussed having a women's rights convention.
The first women's rights convention was held at the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls in 1848. Today, only a few partial walls and the roof timbers remain of the chapel, but it has been incorporated into a small park that also has a water wall with the Declaration of Sentiments inscribed on it. Next door is the Women's Rights National Historical Park--a wonderful, must-see site for anyone interested in social change in the United States.
Also worth a visit is the Seneca Falls Historical Society museum in a 23-room Queen Anne mansion. Mrs. Leroy Partridge purchased a two-story Italianate house in 1880 and began remodeling it into a three-story Victorian. In 1890, the home was sold to the Becker family who lived here until 1961. In those 70 years, no major changes were made, giving today's visitors the rare opportunity to see what life was like for this upper middle-class family with six children.
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