York City Underground Railroad site receives $40K in state funding


A decade-long project to turn a York City house once owned by an abolitionist into an Underground Railroad museum got a funding boost of nearly $40,000 from the state.

The grant will be used to revamp the exterior of Goodridge Freedom House and Underground Rail Museum, said Carol Kauffman, community development director for the Crispus Attucks Association, which owns the building.

"It'll make a big difference," she said.

Officials hope to have part of the museum open to the public next year to coincide with the association's 85th anniversary.

In the meantime, a lot of work has to be done to the 123 E. Philadelphia St. home once owned by freed black slave turned entrepreneur William C. Goodridge, who is believed to have helped fleeing slaves on their journeys to northern states and Canada before and during the Civil War.

His home is believed to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad where slaves hid underground in a space below the first floor.

Work: The $37,589 grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will be used to repair the sidewalks, roof, gutters and windows and to paint the exterior of the house, among other things, Kauffman said.

"It's a lot of that type of thing that will make it (the house) look better for the public," she said.

The grant was part of a round of 39 grants, totalling $1.1 million, awarded to heritage organizations, museums and local governments. The grants require a 50 percent cash match from the recipient, according to the museum commission.

Earlier this year, the electrical and heating and cooling systems of the home were updated.

Additionally, a group from C.S. Davidson spent a day priming the exterior of the summer kitchen for painting and worked inside the main house, tearing out vinyl flooring on the second floor, Kauffman said.

Restoration efforts were seriously set back in 2011 when Tropical Storm Lee caused water damage and workers had to focus their attention on fixing those issues.

"It's now to the point where we can now start finishing up what's been undone," Kauffman said.

Opening: Kauffman said the plan is to have the first floor of the house open to the public in 2016, with the second and third floors opening later.

The first floor will boast thought-provoking exhibits about the Underground Railroad, including one that allows museum-goers a glimpse into the secret basement hiding space.

About $100,000 is needed to fund the work necessary for the first floor to open, Kauffman estimated.

Crispus Attucks has largely relied on donations and public money to fund the project.

How to donate: To make a donation to the Goodridge Freedom House and Underground Rail Museum, go to Enter "Goodridge House" in the description box so donations go to the project.

Donations also may be made by contacting Carol Kauffman at (717) 848-3610, ext. 230, or

— Reach Greg Gross at