Syracuse Parks – 100 Years of Fun and More to Come!


The Strathmore Speaker Series is proud to announce that the Syracuse Parks Department will present on “Syracuse Parks – 100 Years of Fun and More to Come!” at the Onondaga Park Firebarn on Thursday, May 18th at 7 pm. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Syracuse City Parks Department which oversees more than 170 parks and 1,000 acres of city land, while hosting countless public events and programs each year, including the Strathmore Speaker Series which is held in a Parks Department venue.

This event will highlight the past, present, and future of parks in our community, with a special focus on Onondaga, Schiller, Elmwood, Kirk, and Thornden Parks.

In honor of the centennial, Syracuse history website and Instagram account,, will be doing monthly features highlighting Syracuse parks throughout 2017.  The Parks Department will also be sharing momentos from their history every Thursday throughout the year on their Facebook account.

More on the history of some of Syracuse’s Parks:

Syracuse Parks Centennial: The History of Lincoln Park

See the Postcard that Depicts Forman Park in 1911

Burnet Park Turns 130

Perseverance Park Design to Reflect Seasons & History of Syracuse

Thornden Park: A Historical Review

Harlow Park Provides a Common Ground for Sports, Community, History

The Other Onondaga Park with a Lake

100 Years Ago, German Immigrants Honored Two Writers From Their Homeland with Statues in Schiller Park

Syracuse’s Interconnected Parks: Kirk and the Onondaga Parks

A Booming Dedication for a Little Bit of CNY History

Ghosts of the Civil Rights Era: It’s Never too Late for Justice


The Strathmore Speaker Series is proud to announce that Professor Janis McDonald of the Syracuse University College of Law, will speak on the Cold Case Initiative at the Onondaga Park Firebarn on Thursday, April 13th at 7 pm. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

“It’s Never Too Late for Justice.” It’s a simple statement, but one that cuts right to the heart of the Cold Case Justice Initiative. Founded in 2007, by Janis McDonald, a professor at the Syracuse University College of law, and her colleague Professor Paula C. Johnson, the initiative was born out of a desire to help families obtain justice for loved ones killed in acts of racial hatred and violence during the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s.

The impetus to create the initiative evolved from a request by the family of Frank Morris to reopen the investigation into his unsolved murder.

Morris, a 51-year-old African American business owner in Ferriday, Louisiana, had been held at gunpoint and forced into the back of his burning store by suspected members of the Ku Klux Klan on December 10, 1964. He died four days later, with burns covering nearly the entirety of his body. Although a contemporary investigation by the FBI yielded witnesses who identified two local law enforcement officers as being among those responsible for Morris’ death, no charges or indictments followed, and the case was eventually dropped and forgotten.


Frank Morris (fourth from left) in front of his store.

Collaborating with journalist Stanley Nelson of the Louisiana Delta Concordia Sentinel some forty years later, the Cold Case Initiative uncovered enough credible evidence to persuade the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, and the District Attorney for Concordia Parish, Louisiana, to form a joint alliance to investigate the newly reopened Frank Morris murder case.

Since this early success, the initiative has received requests for assistance from countless other victims’ families and met with former Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss the need for a special taskforce dedicated to addressing cold cases from Mississippi and Louisiana. In that time, more than fifty College of Law students have volunteered for the project.

coldcaseWebIn addition to co-directing the initiative, McDonald teaches Constitutional Law, Investigating and Reopening Civil Rights Era Murders, Criminal Law, Employment Discrimination and American Legal History at Syracuse. She also co-teaches the interdisciplinary course “Investigating and Reopening Civil Rights Era Murders,” which pairs graduate students from the College of Law with students from Syracuse’s other graduate schools. The course received the 2008 Syracuse University Chancellor’s Award for Public Engagement and Scholarship in Action.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, McDonald was a member of the law firm of Hirschkop & Grad, P.C. in Alexandria Virginia where she litigated cases in federal and local courts in the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia. She also taught at Ohio Northern University College of Law and Yale Law School, and was a Ford Foundation Fellow in Public and International Law. She has written several articles on civil rights litigation and American legal history, including some which have been cited by federal courts. She has served as president of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations and co-founded the Virginia Women Attorneys Association.

Strathmore Speaker Series on Facebook Live

Don’t want to brave the cold or can’t make today’s Strathmore Speaker Series event, but still interested in what Roy Simmons Jr. and Alf Jacques have to say? Why not watch live or later from home?

The Strathmore Speaker Series will be broadcasting live from the Onondaga Park Firebarn via Facebook Live. 2 pm doesn’t work for you? Still not a problem! A full recording of the event will be available after the event.

Both can be found on the Strathmore Speaker Series Facebook page at


Famed Stickmaker Alf Jacques to Join Roy Simmons Jr. at the Strathmore Speaker Series

The Strathmore Speaker Series is delighted to announce that famed Iroquois wooden stickmaker Alf Jacques will join legendary Syracuse University coach Roy Simmons Jr. in a presentation on lacrosse. The event will be held on Sunday, March 12th at 2 pm at the Onondaga Park Firebarn. Like all Speaker Series events, it’s free and open to the public.

Can’t make it? Tune in live or after the event to watch it all on Facebook Live at

Jacques grew up making wooden sticks alongside his father, Lou, and has been making them for more than half a century. His skill and reputation draws fans, photographers, writers and filmmakers to his shop – some from hundreds of miles away. Evidence of his renown came just this past weekend, when the University of Virginia men’s lacrosse team went out of their way to visit Jacques’s shop and pay homage to the sport they love when in town to face off against the Orange. Incidentally, the Orange defeated the Cavilers 14-13 in the final seconds of the game.

Legendary SU Lacrosse Coach Roy Simmons Jr.


The Strathmore Speaker Series is proud to announce that legendary Syracuse University Men’s Lacrosse Coach, Roy Simmons Jr., will discuss the sport that has shaped his life, our community, and this land for generations, at the Firebarn on Sunday, March 12th at 2 pm. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series events, this presentation is free and open to the public. Can’t make the event? Tune in live or after the event to catch the full event on Facebook Live.   

Roy Simmons Jr. was the head coach of the Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse teamfrom 1971 to 1998. Under his leadership, the Orange won the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship six times, and appeared in the national semifinals for 16 consecutive seasons. Simmons was inducted into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 and the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1991.

The son of Roy Simmons Sr., head coach of the SU men’s lacrosse team for 39 years and a 1964 National Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductee, Simmons grew up surrounded by lacrosse and the Orange. In 1955, he joined the SU lacrosse team as a player under his father. Two years later, the team celebrated a nearly undefeated season, during which Simmons came in second only to Jim Brownamong the team’s leading scorers. He was named honorable mention All-American in 1957 and 1958.

Upon graduating with his bachelor’s degree sculpture in 1959, Simmons joined his father’s coaching staff as coach of SU’s freshman lacrosse team. Twelve years later he became head coach of the SU men’s varsity team, though his early results were mixed due to inconsistent financial support for the program from the University.  During Simmons’ tenure, the University would eventually grant the program the scholarships it needed to be competitive at the highest level.

The team Simmons’ inherited from his father had relied almost exclusively on ex-members of the Orange football team and local Native Americans to compose the bulk of its roster. Under Simmons’ leadership, the Orange expanded their recruiting efforts to also include central New York area high school players, which helped the team reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 1979. They reached the NCAA Tournament again in 1980, losing to Johns Hopkins in the semifinals, but earning their highest tournament placement to date. The achievement earned Simmons’ the title of Division I Men’s Lacrosse Coach of the Year as well as the F. Morris Touchstone Award.


The Orange would reach the tournament again in 1981, before narrowly missing out in 1982. In 1983, SU posted an 11-1 regular season record and reached the championship round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time. Despite trailing the top-rated Blue Jays by 4 at halftime and by 7 during the second half, the Orange rallied for a 17-16 victory, securing SU’s first ever NCAA Tournament title and its first national championship since 1925. The team would reach the NCAA tournament for the next 21 consecutive years.

In 1987, Simmons’ career was marked by another high point in the SU debut of Canadians Paul and Gary Gait, who Simmons referred to as “the two greatest lacrosse players I’ve ever seen in my life.” With the help of the Gait brothers, SU would win the NCAA Tournament for a second time in 1988 and again in 1989 and 1990.The Orange reached the national championship game for the seventh time in ten seasons in 1992, losing to Princeton in double overtime, before returning an eighth time and claiming the title again in 1993. SU won its sixth national championship under Simmons’ leadership in 1995.


Although his 1996-98 teams were all eliminated in the national semifinals, Simmons retired from the University in 1998 with a 290-96 record as head coach and a 16 consecutive year streak of reaching the NCAA semifinals.

Together with his late wife, Nancy, Simmons raised three children in the Syracuse area. His son Roy III played under his father at SU from 1978-1981, and is currently the director of operations for the SU men’s lacrosse team. His protégé and former assistant coach, John Desko, has served as head coach of the SU men’s lacrosse team since Simmons’ retirement.

Strathmore Speaker Series on Facebook Live

Can’t make tonight’s Strathmore Speaker Series event, but still interested in what Fitness Guru Nick Murphy has to say? Why not listen live from home?

Tonight – for the first time ever – the Strathmore Speaker Series will be broadcasting live from the Onondaga Park Firebarn via Facebook Live.


Interested? Tune in to our Facebook page starting around 7 pm.

Fitness Guru Nick Murphy to Speak at the Firebarn

The Strathmore Speaker Series is proud to announce that Certified Personal Trainer and Life Coach Nick Murphy will speak at the Firebarn on Thursday, February 16th at 7 pm. Nick will discuss how to optimize fat loss. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

Nick Murphy, owner of Mission Fitness, has over 20 years of experience in the health and well-being field. He works with clients from across the fitness spectrum, including world class athletes, the morbidly obese, and everyone in between. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge of health, fitness, diet, and exercise, and empowering his clients to take back control of their lives. Notably, Nick helped Syracuse resident Ronnie Brower lose 425 pounds – more than two-thirds of his body weight –through diet and exercise, transforming his life in the process.

Nick and Ronnie Before and After.jpg

Nick holds Personal Trainer Certification from the World Instructor Training Schools (WITS), an organization recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Education and U.S. Dept. of Defense. He is a recommended trainer for WITS interns for his experience and extensive knowledge. His past speaking experiences include TEDxSyracuseUniversity in 2016.

The Strathmore Speaker Series is Proud to Announce its Spring 2017 Season

The Strathmore Speaker Series is proud to announce its Spring 2017 lineup. The season will kickoff on Thursday, February 18th at 7 pm with a presentation by fitness guru and life coach, Nick Murphy, who first gained fame for helping a local man lose 425 pounds. Our second event of the season will feature a presentation by legendary Syracuse University Men’s Lacrosse Coach, Roy Simmons Jr., on Sunday, March 12th at 2 pm. Strathmore resident and founder of the Syracuse University Law School’s Cold Case Initiative, Janis McDonald, will headline our third event about seeking justice for civil rights-era crimes on Thursday, April 13th at 7 pm. And new for the spring 2017 season – a fourth event! – will feature the Syracuse Parks Department on Celebrating 100 Years of Syracuse Parks on Thursday, May 18th at 7 pm.

All events are held in the Onondaga Park Firebarn and are free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!

Mayor Miner Recognizes the Strathmore Speaker Series

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner recognized the Strathmore Speaker Series in her 2017 State of the City Address at the Hotel Syracuse.

The Series was commended for bringing dynamic programming back to the restored Onondaga Park Firebarn.

Hear Mayor Miner’s Speaker Series shout out for yourself at -21:15 left in the video.



Sean Kirst to speak at the Hotel Syracuse

The Strathmore Speaker Series is proud to announce that beloved Central New York journalist and author Sean Kirst will speak at the former Hotel Syracuse (now the Marriott Syracuse Downtown) on Tuesday, December 20th, at 7:30 pm. Sean will be discussing his latest book, “The Soul of Central New York: Syracuse Stories” which is a compilation of essays by Sean that capture and convey the essence of our city. Sean will also be doing a book signing. The event is free and open to the public.

Sean K

From the publisher:

A group of strangers risk death along the New York State Thruway to save a soldier from a burning truck. The true story, as told by football legend Jim Brown, of how the number 44 rose to prominence at Syracuse University. The beautiful yet tragic connection between Vice President Joseph Biden and Syracuse. The impossible account of how Eric Carle, one of the world’s great children’s authors, found his way to a childhood friend through a photograph taken in Syracuse more than eighty years ago.

All these tales can be found in The Soul of Central New York, a collection of columns by Sean Kirst that spans almost a quarter-century. During his long career as a writer for the Syracuse Post-Standard, Kirst won some of the most prestigious honors in journalism, including the Ernie Pyle Award, given annually to one American writer who best captures the hopes and dreams of everyday Americans.

For Kirst, his canvas is Syracuse, an upstate city of staggering beauty and profound struggle. In this book, readers will find a nuanced explanation of how Syracuse is intertwined with the spiritual roots of the Six Nations, as well as a soliloquy from a grieving father whose son was lost to violence on the streets. In these emotional contradictions―in the resilience, love, and heart-break of its people―Kirst offers a vivid portrait of his city and, in the end, gives readers hope.


This event marks the second time Sean will speak at the Strathmore Speaker Series. He originally spoke in October 2015 on “Syracuse: What I loved, why I stayed, and what still drives me wild,”shortly before leaving the Post-Standard/ to a standing room only crowd. An audio recording of that event can be found below. This is also the Series’ second Hotel Syracuse-related event, following a talk by owner/developer Ed Riley and muralist Katerina Spilio in spring 2016. This will be the first Speaker Series event to take place at the hotel.