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Cazenovia College receives historic building from Christakos family

Posted 9/16/22

Cazenovia College recently received one of the largest individual gifts in its history, a $1.8 million-dollar property at 9 Sullivan St.

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Cazenovia College receives historic building from Christakos family

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CAZENOVIA — Cazenovia College recently received one of the largest individual gifts in its history, a $1.8 million-dollar property at 9 Sullivan Street which includes one- and two-bedroom apartments. Previously, the college was renting the complex for student housing.

The building will be named “The 1850” and dedicated on Friday, Sept. 23, at 4:15 p.m.

Philanthropists Patricia Rickett Christakos ‘77 and Sparky Christakos donated the residence to honor their parents Peg Rickett, and Harriet and Nicholas Christakos.

Peg Rickett served at Cazenovia College from 1971 through 1990 as the director of residences and assistant dean of students. Harriet and Nicholas Christakos have supported the college for decades, with Nicholas as a trustee emeritus, and board chair from 1975 to 1976.

“In addition to honoring our parents, we recognize Cazenovia College’s importance to the heart of the village and want to support this critical anchor in our community,” Patricia noted. “The history of the site is quite remarkable as well, when in 1850, rallying abolitionists marched to end slavery. We believe the name ‘The 1850’ is a great way to recall the significance.”

Nine Sullivan Street is the historic site of the Cazenovia Fugitive Slave Law Convention of 1850, officials say. In August 1850, Frederick Douglass joined Gerrit Smith and 2,000 other abolitionists to protest the Fugitive Slave Law, a pending act of Congress designed to prosecute freed slaves in the North as well as those that aided them.

Despite the abolitionists’ efforts, the act became law, although it was repealed at the end of the American Civil War. The convention brought so many people to the village that the only place that could hold them was Grace Wilson’s apple orchard on Sullivan Street, now the site of the apartments.

A formerly enslaved man, Douglass was a prominent activist, author, and public speaker.

Born in Utica, Smith was an American reformer who provided financial backing for antislavery crusades. Smith and Douglass were drawn together by their shared commitment to ending slavery and guaranteeing equal rights for all. They are considered two of the most influential and powerful abolitionists and were among the first five people inducted into the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro.

“We are grateful to the Christakos family for their service and support to Cazenovia College,” said David Bergh, president of Cazenovia College. “Not only does this property become a valuable asset for the college, but we also welcome the opportunity through ‘The 1850’ naming to take on the responsibility of stewarding this place and its history, drawing attention to the important events that occurred here to combat the evil of slavery and embracing those efforts as inspiration to work toward advancing equity in our own time on our campus and in this community.”

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