A $2 million state grant will help launch the expansion of the Underground Railroad Education Center (UREC), which is currently housed in the former 19th-century home of Black abolitionists Harriet and Stephen Myers, a onetime stop on the Underground Railroad located in Albany‘s Arbor Hill neighborhood.
The state Capital Assistance grant will go toward building a new Interpretive Center in an empty lot next door to the Myers residence on Livingston Avenue.
The grant is a significant boost for UREC, which has been working to build the interpretive center for several years. The center’s co-founders, Mary Liz and Paul Stewart, said that the grant “will allow us to create a world-class interpretive center that will educate and inspire people of all ages about the Underground Railroad.”
The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses that helped enslaved people escape to freedom in the North and Canada. Albany was a major stop on the Underground Railroad, and the city’s role in the abolitionist movement is well-documented.
The new interpretive center is expected to include interactive exhibits that will allow visitors to learn about the Underground Railroad in a hands-on way; educational programming for students of all ages; a research library that will provide scholars and historians with access to primary source materials; and a visitor center that will offer information about the Underground Railroad and the Albany area.
The new interpretive center is expected to open in 2024. For more information about the UREC visit their website.
Photo of the former Myers residence, now the home of the Underground Railroad Education Center provided.