Assemblymember Fahy Announces $2 Million Towards Interpretive Center

Assemblymember Pat Fahy, in collaboration with Assemblymember John McDonald, announced a $2 million grant towards the creation of Underground Railroad Education Center’s Interpretive Center on Wednesday, June 28th. The press conference was held on the grounds where the Interpretive Center will be built.

Underground Railroad Education Center gets $2 Million for new Interpretive Center

by: Skylar Eagle
News Channel 10

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Underground Railroad Education Center in Albany is getting significant new funding for their Interpretive Center.

State lawmakers and other community leaders announced the $2 Million boost from the New York Capital Assistance program, explaining how the money will push the center’s development forward.

The museum plans to use the new interpretive center to expand their exhibits and provide a community space for children, guest speakers and artists interested in learning more about the area’s history.

“The interpretive center was a dream that began with the sitting board of directors in 2008 so it has been hovering for a long time,” Mary-Liz Stewart, Co-Founder of the Underground Railroad Education Center, said.

“When I say I get chills every time I read about Steven and Harriet Myers, part of the reason we want to see the interpretive center created is because we want the youth, we want our future having those chills,” Assemblywoman Pat Fahy said.

The entire project is expected to cost over eight million dollars, the center hopes to begin construction in 2024.

Legislature approves $2M for Albany’s Underground Railroad Education Center

News Channel 13

Albany’s Underground Railroad Education Center is getting a huge boost in funding.

The New York State Legislature approved $2 million for the facility’s new interpretive center.

The new addition will expand the center’s community footprint, attract more visitors and residents alike, and continue its important historical and cultural mission in the Capital Region and New York state, organizers said.

State funding announced for Albany’s Underground Railroad Education Center’s interpretive center – WAMC

Northeast Public Radio | By Dave Lucas

Dave Lucas / WAMC

By Dave Lucas/WAMC

New York state lawmakers have announced $2 million for The Underground Railroad Education Center for its planned Interpretive Center in Albany.

Standing on an empty lot near the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence on Livingston Avenue,

109th district Assemblymember Pat Fahy and 108th district Assemblymember John McDonald said decades of work by co-founders of the Underground Railroad History Project, Paul and Mary Liz Stewart, laid the groundwork for the Center.

“It still gives me chills. I think we gave Paul a heart attack when we called. I asked him if he was sitting. But this press event today, one of the reasons we wanted this big announcement, is it’s twofold. One, we wanted to share in this extraordinary news. It is years and years in the making. But it’s also that we want the word to get out, because they have such a vision. It wasn’t just restoring the house. Now they have an interpretive center,” said Fahy.

“The money Pat announced today is not a discretionary grant. It’s something that was intentionally included in this year’s budget. The speaker approached us talked about we want to make an investment in a regionally important project. This is the project that was selected, thanks to Speaker Heastie,” said McDonald.

Plans for the center include outside patio space, off-street parking, a library, children’s room, exhibit and event space, along with a café and commercial kitchen, conference room, and two studio apartments, one for affordable housing to a security and grounds employee. The other apartment will be made available to visiting professors and artists.

The Stewarts say it will take about $8 million to establish a fully functional center. They’re hoping the $2 million will inspire future grants. Mary Liz Stewart says more than a decade has passed since the idea to build an interpretive center was born.

“The interpretive center was a dream that began with the sitting board of directors in 2008,” Stewart said. “So it has been hovering for a long time. But if it appears that this is the appropriate moment to step forward, and to make this, take this big step, to continue to expand what Underground Railroad Education Center has been doing over the years. In many ways, we have reached our limit in the use of the Meyers residence for the kind of programming that we’d like to offer. We’d like to expand those opportunities to reach more people to offer jobs to our neighbors to develop workforce development opportunities here as well, all based in looking back to the justice work of our abolitionists and continuing with others across time, as we stand here today, and move forward to ensure the justice and equity that by right belongs to everybody in this country.”

Albany County Legislator Wanda Willingham represents the 3rd district. She praised the Stewarts and thanked lawmakers for moving the center project forward.

“You’re paving away and showing those people in other parts of the country that our history is about all of the people of these United States, not just one group,” said Willingham. “When I look at the next group of people here, and I read the history of how strong Stephen Myers was in the abolitionist movement. It made me realize that that Black people did not, were not in the back and forging and making their freedom known and realizing that we are the ones that have to push for our freedom.”

The Stewarts hope to see construction of the center begin sometime in 2024.