Detroit UGRR walking tour now includes access into authentic safe house

Detroit Underground Railroad walking tour returns with exciting authentic inclusion – access to historic Croghan Street Station

Second Baptist Church Detroit
Croghan Street Station on the Underground Railroad

 Detroit, MI – June 23, 2014 –The Incredible Journey to Midnight: Detroit Underground Railroad Tour returns to the streets of downtown Detroit in July with an exciting new addition – access inside the historic Second Baptist Church safe house.

“This is a major coup for us,” said Karin Risko, Hometown History Tours founder and tour organizer. “When it comes to Detroit’s role in the Underground Railroad, you can’t get any more historically significant than Second Baptist Church.”

Organized in 1836 by thirteen former slaves, Second Baptist Church – known as the Croghan Street Station on the Underground Railroad, was at the epicenter of Detroit’s anti-slavery movement. In direct defiance of harsh fugitive slave laws governing our nation at the time, the church provided shelter to freedom seekers at this final stop on the Underground Railroad before sending them on to freedom in Canada.

“Our walking tours garnered rave reviews last year,” said Risko. “People loved how our actors, portraying historical giants of the era, brought history to life. They enjoyed learning about our rich history, most of which they had not known. Even with all the accolades, I felt we were missing a big part – an authentic physical element to the tour. That’s difficult to incorporate in our city considering most structures of this era are long gone.

“When Second Baptist agreed to open its doors to the safe house, we were thrilled. Instead of standing across the street and talking about Second Baptist’s leading role in Detroit’s anti-slavery movement, tour goers now get to experience it. When they descend the steep, long stairway into the dark and isolated basement, they might feel the same sense of trepidation freedom seekers felt as they once again had to go into hiding – in another strange place – before their long, dangerous journey to freedom was over.”

Participating in the tour was important for the members of Second Baptist Church Historical Committee too.

“It’s fitting that we’re involved with this tour as the Underground Railroad is a vital part of our church’s legacy which continues today.” said Bobby Brown, Historical Committee chairman.

“We’re located where Detroit’s black community began, and Second Baptist is the ‘Mother’ to many of the city’s African-American churches. Early members gathered here not only for spiritual guidance but to discuss the injustices imposed upon them and their enslaved brothers and sisters. Members took action and stood up against these injustices.

“Defying federal laws, First Pastor Reverend William C. Monroe served as station master on the Underground Railroad, a position that would be passed on to succeeding pastors.   The safe house in our basement is one of the only remaining documented Detroit stations on the Underground Railroad still in existence today. Not only did Reverend Monroe provide shelter to freedom seekers awaiting passage on their journey to Canada, he further defied laws by teaching them to read!

“Many influential local abolitionists were members of our church, and internationally renowned orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass spoke here. We’re proud of our bold history and want to preserve it,” said Brown.

“These tours give us the opportunity to reach a wider audience and tell our story. Hopefully, the tours will pique attendee interest enough so they come back and join us for our full church tours where they’ll learn about the many amazing firsts that have taken place here throughout our 178-year history. Our members have made – and continue to make – significant contributions to society.”

Incredible Journey to Midnight: Detroit Underground Railroad Tours take place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the following Saturdays: July 19, 26; August 2, 16; September 20. Tours begin at the Underground Railroad Reading Station Bookstore and Gift Shop, 461 Monroe Street. Tickets are $30 for adults and $20. Group discounts are available for parties of 12 or more. This is a walking / People Mover tour with an emphasis on walking. Comfortable shoes and weather appropriate attire are recommended.

“While we’re offering the tour on a limited basis this year, our goal is to develop it into a must-do Detroit attraction,” said Risko, a longtime proponent of heritage tourism. The tour is a perfect opportunity to not only learn about Detroit and American history, it provides attendees an up close glimpse of our beautiful city at night.”

For more information, or to order tickets for the Incredible Journey to Midnight: Detroit Underground Railroad Tour, visit www.hometownhistorytours.com/tours or call 734.642.5712.



 

 

 

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