Underground Railroad Research Forum

Re: UGRR ….What’s Happening??

By: Kate C. Larson

Date: 3/12/2005, 10:16 am

In Response To: UGRR ….What’s Happening?? (Art Thomas)

This is the latest from New York State!


Grants Will Support Heritage Tourism and Highlight NY’s Role in Anti-Slavery Movement

Governor Pataki today announced $1.4 million in grants to fund Underground Railroad Heritage Trail sites throughout New York State. The funding will promote heritage tourism while helping to preserve and interpret numerous sites that tell the story of New York’s critical role in the Underground Railroad and anti-slavery movement.

“This initiative will highlight the unique role New York’s communities played in what was the greatest struggle for human liberty in American history – the fight against the evil institution of slavery,” Governor Pataki said. “Through the Underground Railroad Heritage Trail program, we will preserve and formally recognize many of the significant people and historic sites throughout our State that are associated with the Underground Railroad and the anti-slavery movement.”

The Governor made the grant announcement in conjunction with the State’s commemoration of Harriet Tubman Day in New York. In 2003 the Governor proclaimed March 10th as a day of commemoration in New York State to honor the life and heroic contributions of Harriet Ross Tubman, a leader in the Underground Railroad and anti-slavery movement. As part of the State’s tribute, the first annual New York State Governor’s Harriet Tubman Spirit Awards will be presented this evening to 12 women whose accomplishments depict the spirit of Harriet Tubman. The awards ceremony will take place at the New York State Museum and will include musical presentations, readings and spiritual enrichment.

The Underground Railroad Heritage Trail Grant Program provides $970,000 in matching funds to municipalities and non-profit organizations to enhance heritage tourism by funding site improvements at historic sites and exhibits at interpretive centers. The program received requests for projects totaling more than $2,750,000 from across the state. Governor Pataki has also provided an additional $430,000 for interpretive signs and exhibits at designated historic sites for a total of $1.4 million in funding. Heritage New York, established by the Governor, is developing the Underground Railroad Heritage Trail and managing this grant program.

One innovative aspect of the grant program is the Regional and Local Interpretive Centers. Some areas of the state, such as New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and the Hudson Valley, have few publicly accessible historic sites, yet have an important UGRR story to tell. To address this need, new permanent exhibits will be funded at existing visitor-ready facilities to create Regional and Local Interpretive Centers. These sites will tell the broader story of the regional or local role of communities associated with the Underground Railroad and anti-slavery movement.

Heritage New York Executive Director Rich White-Smith said, “These awards will enable important Underground Railroad sites across the state to be preserved and tell their compelling story of courage and determination. I applaud Governor Pataki for his vision and leadership in

creating tourist destinations that will reveal New York’s pivotal role in the Underground Railroad movement.”

Heritage New York was formed by the Governor to preserve, interpret and celebrate New York’s unique heritage and promote heritage tourism. This program is coordinating the development of the five Heritage Trails that the Governor has announced to date: Revolutionary War, Underground Railroad, Theodore Roosevelt, Labor and Women’s Heritage Trails. In addition to administering grant programs, Heritage New York is developing a web site, kiosks, site markers and brochures to promote the heritage trails.

A list of projects is attached.


Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University
Lewiston, Niagara County
Exhibits for Underground Railroad Regional Interpretive Center

Murphy Orchards/The McClew Interpretive Center Inc.
Newfane, Niagara County
Exhibits for The McClew Local Underground Railroad Interpretive Center


Fenton History Center – Museum and Library
Jamestown, Chautauqua County
Exhibits for Underground Railroad Local Interpretive Center

John W. Jones Museum

Elmira, Chemung County
John W. Jones Museum – House Interior Restoration


Rochester Museum and Science Center $80,000
Rochester, Monroe County
Exhibits for RMSC Regional Interpretive Center

Seth Gates House Museum/Warsaw Historical Society $24,000
Warsaw, Wyoming County
Seth M. Gates House Site Improvements


Onondaga Historical Association $36,000
Syracuse, Onondaga County
Exhibits for Regional Interpretive Center

Gerrit Smith Estate NHL/Smithfield Community Association $16,181
Peterboro, Madison County
Gerrit Smith Estate NHL Land Office Site Improvement

Starr Clark Tinshop/Mexico Historical Society

Mexico, Oswego County
Starr Clark Tinshop Restoration

Howland Stone Store Museum
Aurora, Cayuga County
Site Improvements to the Howland Stone Store Museum.

Oswego School District Public Library $92,919
Oswego, Oswego County
Asbestos Abatement Project

Bristol Hill Congregational United Church of Christ $40,000
Volney, Oswego County
Restoration of the Bristol Hill Church

Smithfield Community Center/ $51,700

Smithfield Community Association
Peterboro, Madison County
Smithfield Community Center Site Improvements

The Matilda Joslyn Gage Home $28,000
Fayetteville, Onondaga County Gage Home site improvements


Adirondack History Center/ Essex County Historical Society $25,000
Elizabethtown, Essex County
Exhibits for Local Interpretive Center

Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence/Underground Railroad


History Project of the Capital Region Inc.

Albany, Albany County

Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence 1st floor restoration

John Brown Farm/NYS Office of Parks, Recreation $35,100
and Historic Preservation
North Elba, Essex County

John Brown Farm site improvement


Philipsburg Manor/Historic Hudson Valley
Sleepy Hollow, Westchester County
Exhibits for Philipsburg Manor Regional Interpretive Center


Brooklyn Tourism and Visitors Center/
Brooklyn Borough President’s Office and Best of Brooklyn, Inc.
(BOB) Brooklyn, Kings County Exhibits for the BTVC Regional Interpretive Center


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