Safe Haven Museum and Education Center


The Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter was the only shelter in the United States to house refugees from the cataclysm of World War II in Europe. These refugees began their journey to the U.S. from Naples, Italy, aboard the troop ship Henry Gibbins in July 1944.


gibbons_sm1.jpgA train brought them to their new home in Oswego in early August, 1944.

Who were these refugees? Where did they come from? How were they selected?

They came as “guests” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. They were all ages, the youngest a new-born baby and the oldest over 80 years old.

fence_sm1.jpgWhat was it like to live in U.S. army barracks surrounded by a chain link fence topped by barbed wire in a country foreign to them? How did Oswego residents react to these strangers placed among them? When President Roosevelt died and the war in Europe came to a close with Germany’s surrender, what happened to these displaced people?

Visit the Safe Haven Museum and Education Center at historic Fort Ontario to experience a unique story of bravery, compassion, and despair turned into hope for a future free from persecution.

Museum hours:

  • Summer
    • Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day: Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 4 pm
    • Memorial Day and Labor Day Mondays: 10 am – 4 pm (Closed all other Mondays)
  • Winter
    • After Labor Day to Memorial Day weekend: Friday – Sunday: Noon – 4 pm
    • Closed Monday – Thursday
  • Group tours available year round upon request


For more information, visit our web site at:
Phone: 315 342-3003 email: [email protected]