Jeff Ingersoll of Hammondsport, New York, has been named Chair of the Robert Green Ingersoll Memorial Committee. He succeeds Roger Greeley of Marquette, Michigan, who chaired the Committee since 1991 and will become Chair Emeritus. The Ingersoll Memorial Committee is a program of the Council for Secular Humanism (based in Amherst, New York), which owns and operates the freethought museum at the birthplace of 19th century orator Robert Green Ingersoll (“the Great Agnostic”) in Dresden, New York.
Jeff Ingersoll – who happens to be Robert Ingersoll’s seventh cousin, four times removed – owned a Buffalo-based contracting firm that specialized in restoration and painting of historic structures. Since 2002 he served as the Ingersoll Museum’s volunteer construction manager, contributing thousands of dollars’ worth of donated time and materials to paint, maintain, and repair the birthplace, a frame house dating to 1800. In 2014 Mr. Ingersoll retired and opened the McCorn Winery Lodging, a bed and breakfast in a historic winery building nestled on a hill overlooking Hammondsport, New York.
In the spring of 2014 Mr. Ingersoll superintended a complete interior renovation of the birthplace prior to installation of the new, professionally designed T. M. Scruggs Museum Interior, which opened to the public over Memorial Day weekend.
“It would be hard to overstate what Jeff’s support has meant to the Ingersoll museum,” said Tom Flynn, director of the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum and executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism. “Thanks to Jeff’s generosity and his deep expertise in construction and restoration, Ingersoll’s birthplace has been lavishly cared for since 2002. Moreover, Jeff has done it all with a deep understanding of the history that the birthplace represents.”
Mr. Ingersoll will be formally installed as Chair at a conference to be held at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, New York, on Saturday, August 16: Robert Green Ingersoll and the Reform Imperative. (More details on the conference available at http://secularhumanism.org/ingersollcon.) The Center for Inquiry is the supporting organization of the Council for Secular Humanism.
The Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum is open to the public each weekend during summer and fall. It has been open yearly since 1993. Freethought orator Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) was one of the best-known and most controversial public lecturers of the years following the Civil War. Because many of his lectures challenged religion, he has largely been written out of history; the Museum describes him as “the most remarkable American most people never heard of.”
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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI‘s web address is www.centerforinquiry.net.
The Council for Secular Humanism—housed at the Center for Inquiry—is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization promoting rational inquiry, secular values, and positive human development through the advancement of secular humanism. The Council, publisher of the bimonthly journal Free Inquiry, has a website at www.secularhumanism.org.