Agnostic orator Robert Green Ingersoll was born in this house on August 11, 1833. Though his family left Dresden when Robert was only four months old, this house remains the only one of Ingersoll’s many residences still standing and open to the public. Exhibits include an orientation video, a rich collection of Ingersoll memorabilia and literature, a period restoration of the room in which Ingersoll was born, and a local history room.
The house has been restored on three occasions. It was first restored in 1921 by a blue-ribbon committee whose members included Thomas Edison and Edgar Lee Masters. It operated as a community center until the Great Depression. It was restored in 1954 by atheist activist Joseph Lewis and operated as a museum until the mid-1960s. It was near collapse when it was purchased in 1986 by the Council for Secular Humanism. After raising and spending more than $250,000, the Council rehabilitated the birthplace and in 1993 opened it as a museum.
In 2014 the Museum interior was completely redesigned and updated. The T. M. Scruggs Museum Interior was designed by The Exhibition Alliance of Hamilton, New York, working with museum director Tom Flynn and volunteer construction manager Jeff Ingersoll. In 2016, Jeff Ingersoll added a new, historically accurate front porch on the main (two-story) wing of the birthplace.
The Museum is open weekends each summer and fall. For more information, see its website. It is a co-anchor of the Freethought Trail.
Robert Ingersoll’s mother, Mary Livingston Ingersoll, died on December 2, 1835, in Cazenovia, New York, when Robert was three years old. Her unmarked grave site was located in December 2015 and a period-appropriate gravestone was dedicated on Memorial Day 2016.