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July 22, 2006 / Brooklyn news / Development / Around Brooklyn

Academic joins fight to save ‘Underground RR’ houses

The Brooklyn Paper

An expert on the Underground Railroad has joined the crusade to save two Duffield Street houses that are facing demolition by the city.

The expert, Delores Walters, was one of a number of academics hired by a consulting firm to investigate local claims that the houses, at 225 and 227 Duffield, were stations on the Underground Railroad.

She says they may not have been — but that the city should err on the side of caution before tearing down a potentially historic site.

The city wants to bulldoze the homes and build a parking lot for a proposed hotel in Downtown Brooklyn.

Opponents of the plan say the city is ignoring the remnants of what was once an extensive network of houses and farms that sheltered runaway slaves journeying from bondage to Canada.

“African-Americans’ struggle for freedom, equality and self-determination dates from the earliest period of the American colonies and is a continuing legacy that we must now preserve,” Walters wrote in a private letter to City Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Prospect Heights), who promptly made it public.

“Duffield Street … provides such an opportunity. I strongly support the idea that a cultural and historical heritage site or corridor be created.”

Walters is one of many experts who have called for preservation of the houses.

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