One of the most interesting house museums in New York State  is this stately 1816 Federal-style home shaded by leafy trees (33 South St., 315/252-1283, www.sewardhouse.org , 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Sat. and 1–4 p.m. Sun. July–Oct., 10 a.m–4 p.m. Tues.–Sat. Oct.–June, closed Jan., adults $7, seniors $6, students $2, under 10 free).
The house belonged to William H. Seward, ardent abolitionist, New York governor, and U.S. senator, best remembered for purchasing Alaska from the Russians in 1857. Seward also served as Lincoln’s secretary of state and was almost assassinated by a co-conspirator of John Wilkes Booth at the same time as the president.
Amazingly, almost everything in the Seward house is original. Inside you’ll find not only Seward’s furniture, but his grocery bills, top hats, pipe collection, snuff-box collection, 10,000 books, political campaign buttons, tea from the Boston Tea Party, personal letters from Abraham Lincoln, and calling cards of former visitors Horace Greeley, Frederick Douglass, Millard Fillmore, and Daniel Webster.
Seward first moved to Auburn  for the love of Miss Frances Miller, whose father, Judge Elijah Miller, built the house. As a newly minted lawyer, Seward got a job in the judge’s law firm, and proposed to his daughter. The ornery judge allowed the liaison on one condition: Seward could never take his daughter away from him. Seward agreed and, despite his enormous worldly success, lived under his father-in-law’s thumb for the next 27 years.
Excellent guides bring the past alive and a fascinating collection of visiting leaders makes for a fun Guess Who game. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the museum is the revelation and proof, in the form of photographs, news clippings, an eye witness account, and a bloodied, rent garment, that Lincoln was not a solo target that fateful night in the theater.