Duffield Street in Downtown Brooklyn is home to a small remnant cluster of mid-19th-century buildings. One of the buildings, 227 Duffield, built in 1848, was owned by Thomas and Harriet Lee-Truesdell, who were prominent abolitionists in that era. The "Underground Railroad" was a secret chain of safe houses that helped runaway slaves from the south excape to freedom in Canada. While the Underground Railroad operated in the shadows and left very little documentation of its activities, many historians have considered it very likely that 227 Duffield was a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Despite that historic signifigance, on January 7, 2004, Joy Chatel, an owner of 227 Duffield Street was given a notice informing her that her home would be taken by eminent domain and demolished to make way for a new parking lot that is part of the City's gentrification plan to convert Downtown Brooklyn into a playground for the wealthy. With the attention brought to the subsequent fight to save the building, I took a trip over to Duffield Street in the Fall of 2007 to document the fated buildings.
However, in a turn of events that was very unusual in sucn a developer-friendly environment, on November 29, 2007, the city changed its plan and agreed to spare 227 Duffield. While it is obvious that considerable work will be needed to restore 227 Duffield to it's original condition and make it presentable as a museum, it is nice to see the little guy win once in awhile.