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Work restarted on turning Goodridge-Dempwolf house into Underground Railroad Museum

IMG-20140415-00036William C. Goodridge was born a slave in Maryland, but became a free and prosperous business man in York, Pennsylvania, in the decades before the American Civil War. He owned a multistory emporium on York’s center square as well as a barbershop and other businesses, including a railcar manufacturing concern.

He was also a smuggler.

Of people.

Goodridge is known to have been active in the Underground Railroad movement in York County and often secreted escaped slaves in his properties. He reportedly also hid them in false bottoms in his railcars and transported them out of harm’s way.

His home at 123 E. Philadelphia Street was a way station on the Underground Railroad according to the National Park Service’s Road to Freedom group.

Donated to the local Crispus Attucks organization years ago by its owner, the house has sat empty for several years while funding was being secured to restore it as an Underground Railroad museum.

And now, thanks to the efforts of several concerned Yorkers, the work is back underway. Here are some photos I took of the work in progress, with so very, very much yet to go. I am looking forward to the day when I can give my PowerPoint talk on the Underground Railroad in York County in this museum!

IMG-20140415-00045The center hall of this Federal style home… Goodridge moved here in the 1830s and lived in this home until he moved to Minnesota in the early 1860s.

IMG-20140415-00038About the turn of the century, a member of the Dempwolf architecture partnership purchased the home and renovated it with Greek Revival features.

IMG-20140415-00040Dempwolf and his sibling were civic leaders as well as entrepreneurs. Late in the 20th century this home became offices for a drafting company.

IMG-20140415-00043There is a lot of work in front of the team, but the project is in very good hands.

IMG-20140415-00044This is a view of a room on the upper floor. This would make a great office space!

IMG-20140415-00042Work is in progress…

IMG-20140415-00041… but there’s much yet to be accomplished!

IMG-20140415-00039This glass covers the old hidden stairway to a separate cellar under the kitchen. It is believed that slaves descended these stairs into the chamber below and huddled there until Goodridge could safely them them out of York. When the museum is finished, a projection system will show a film clip on this glass of a refugee heading down the stairs.

IMG-20140415-00047Detail of an 1850 map of downtown York showing Market Street at the bottom with Philadelphia Street in the center. The Goodridge [spelled incorrectly on the map) home is the ell-shaped house in the center just west of the alley. Today this is a row of houses.