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Albany's Underground Railroad home gets facelift

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Updated: 7/24 3:05 pm
ALBANY, N.Y. - An Albany home that led thousands to freedom in the Underground Railroad is getting a million dollar face lift this summer. 

The brick townhome was built in 1847 and housed two famous abolitionists, Stephen and Harriet Myers. 

Myers was born a slave in Rensselaer County in 1800. One freed, Myers dedicated his life to helping others make their journey to freedom using his own home and the Underground Railroad network.

The home is in the process of being restored so others in the Capital Region can be reminded of its importance to local and national history.

Sean Grenado moved into the Livingston Street home in Albany’s Arbor Hill six years ago. But he had no idea he moved next door to an important piece of American history until he started to notice a lot of work being done.

“They started cleaning the building, and we started asking questions, they started to tell us it was a part of the Underground Railroad so we were really excited because it is right next to us,” said Grenado.

Paul Stewart runs the Underground History Project of the Capital Region, which bought the property back in 2004. 

"Stephen and Harriet Myers were active in the Underground Railroad, active in helping people in the Underground Railroad and they continued to do that work even here,” said Stewart.

Stewart said the home was part of an old advertisement for the Underground Railroad vigilance committee that led him to the property. The home once stood as 198 Lumber Street in the mid1850s but it is now 194 Livingston Avenue.

“We didn’t find it right away because the numbers on the street had changed; the name of the street had changed,” explained Stewart. 

Stewart says summer workers are revitalizing the building to its former glory thanks to grants, donations and a lot of volunteers. He hopes to eventually turn the house into a museum.

“Not so much telling the grand story of how somebody went from Maryland to Canada, but what happened in a specific community, who were the local players involved and what did they do," Stewart said.

He said the outside of the home should be finished by the end of the summer then they will work on the inside. It is estimated that the total cost of the restoration will cost around $1.5 million to complete.

The Underground Railroad History Project will be offering an open house of the Myers Home on July 31.
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