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Progressive Working People’s Lyceum

580 St Paul St
Rochester, NY 14605, US

Category: Meeting Site

Used in the following map:

Rochester Labor History eMap

Following its expulsion from City Hall in 1911 the Labor Lyceum reestablished its program at a site built and owned by progressive unions and German community groups. The cornerstone of the Progressive Working People’s Lyceum was laid on Labor Day, September 2, 1912 and the building opened on December 31, dedicated to “scientific working-class education.”
In addition to hosting a weekly lecture and discussion program on labor topics, the Lyceum housed Brewers Union 74, the Workmen’s Singing Society and its Ladies Section, the Workmen’s Sick and Death Benefit Fund, Local Rochester Socialist Party, the German Branch of the Socialist Party, the Workers‚ Library, the Socialist School, and the Young People’s Socialist League. Later, the Lyceum also housed the Working People’s Consumers League and a Labor Lyceum Gymnasium.
In 1919 the left Amalgamated Optical Workers were headquartered here - a union with which Bausch & Lomb refused to deal, even when meeting the workers‚ demand for a wage increase. The Labor Lyceum was one of several sites, including the offices of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, raided by Rochester police in November 1919 - concurrently with the first raid ordered by U.S. Attorney General Palmer. The police seized the library of the Proletarian Party and arrested three party members, charging them with criminal anarchy. Socialist candidates continued to appear at the Lyceum, including Norman Thomas, who spoke on October 23, 1946, and the Labor Open Forum continued to be run on Sunday afternoons through the 1950s. Declining participation and support led to the closing of the Labor Lyceum in September 1976.


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