Trying to Preserve History on Abolitionist Place

227 Abolitionist Place (Screen shot via Brooklyn Daily Eagle video)

The family of Joy Chatel had hoped to buy the property at 227 Duffield St. after her death but did not manage to raise enough money. Liliana Bernal writes in Brooklyn Daily Eagle that Chatel had sold half of the building for financial reasons. Today, as the property undergoes a legal process and a planned renovation, her daughter and other family members are fighting to keep a part of Brooklyn history intact.

Historians believe that the houses on the street may have been a part of the Underground Railroad. In 2007, New York City co-named the street “Abolitionist Place.” Only two houses from the time period remain today, one of them 227 Duffield St., or Abolitionist Place.

The family “requested the excavation of the arch and the doorway so they can preserve it” and hope to keep the basement and establish a museum in honor of the historic site.

The property…

…was the home of Thomas and Harriet Truesdell, strong supporters of the abolitionist movement. The Truesdells purchased the property in 1850, the same year that the Fugitive Slave Act was passed.

Old maps and small artifacts uncovered in the basement, a doorway and a sealed arch leading to a tunnel indicate that the two-story building may have served as a station on the Freedom Trail.

Joy Chatel took ownership of the house in 1998. Once she learned the history she was lodging, she struggled to preserve the property until the day of her death.

Go to Brooklyn Daily Eagle to get a glimpse of the street and property in a video produced by Bernal, and find out what Chatel’s daughter, Shawn Lee, hopes will become of it, even if Plan A does not succeed.

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