Former tenants of the home have reported findings of old stoves and iron cauldrons there, leading the current tenants to believe that the sub-basements of these houses served as feeding stations for escaped slaves passing through Brooklyn.
The area around Duffield Street is also rich in history. Polytechnic University's student center is located two blocks from Duffield Street. In 1860, the center was the Bridge Street African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church, Brooklyn's first African-American church, as well as an abolitionist site. Then, just ten minutes from Duffield Street, Plymouth Church can be found. Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth, and Frederick Douglass all attended this church. It is well known for its connection to the Underground Railroad. In fact, the tunnels beneath the homes on Duffield Street were believed to have led to this church.
Surrounded by luxury condos and hotels, the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and Department of City Planning announced in 2004 that they wanted to tear down the homes on Duffield Street as part of an economic development plan for downtown Brooklyn. Replacing many of the buildings on the street with new hotels, underground parking, and a park. The owners of these homes and local supporters fought against the city. Pressuring the Bloomberg Administration to honor the efforts of abolitionists in the nineteenth century.
Many historians have studied the site and concluded that not only did the site witness Abolitionist activity, but it also provides insight into underground slave safe-houses. However, there was still dispute over whether or not the small homes were actually linked to the Underground Railroad. Therefore, the city hired consultants to investigate. Their response sparked anger among locals and abolitionists who fought back. Eventually, the city agreed to reconsider their plans and build without affecting the homes on Duffield.
Today, 227 Abolitionist Place no longer faces threats of being demolished. However, it does still face many challenges such as raising money and gaining support to turn the home into a small museum and cultural center. The preservation of historical sites like this will provide more education on the history of the United States as the country moves forward.