SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The unique shape and close proximity to City Hall make it hard to miss, but before it was known as the Courier Building, it was called Frazee Hall. Built in 1844, it housed several stores and was used as a meeting space.

"It was just a general meeting hall that anybody in the community could use for different gatherings, social events or political events," explained Dennis Connors of the Onondaga Historical Association.

The most notable gathering was in 1851, when Daniel Webster gave an infamous speech in support of the Fugitive Slave Law from the building's second-floor balcony.

"The federal government administration under President (Millard) Fillmore was concerned that cities like Syracuse might ignore that law and that’s why Daniel Webster came here, gave the speech from the balcony," said Connors.

The speech incited strong local opposition and just a few months later, residents showed it. They freed an escaped slave named William Henry, who was arrested under the law.

"The Jerry Rescue is kind of the ultimate civil disobedience in the face of federal law and in helping fugitive slaves," said Connors.

Years later, the Syracuse Daily Courier moved into the building. For nearly a decade, a variety of newspapers called it home. Many say the location just made sense.

“It was a hub of information. Downtown, in many cities, used to be social centers and that’s how we communicated," said James Prioletti.

Eventually, the newspapers moved on and the building played an important role in the social reform movement as for nearly three decades, the Moose Club operated out of it.

"Really a men’s club, an excuse kind of to get together away from the family," said Connors.

In the late 1940s, the building was purchased and remodeled for office and commercial uses. It changed hands again in 2000, when it was renamed the Courier Building. For years after that, a popular French restaurant served food there.

"It was a place to come and perhaps have a cocktail, enjoy some conversation and go home," said Prioletti.

Now, Prioletti owns the building. Apartments take up the upper floors with commercial space on the ground floor. It's nearly full and he and others hope it’s a sign the building will have life for years to come.