The next episode of the Abolition Hall drama will play out before the Whitemarsh Township Board of Supervisors on July 19.
A recap: Abolition Hall is one of three historic landmarks on the George Corson homestead in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. A developer, K. Hovnanian Homes, proposes to build 67 townhomes on the surrounding fields where runaway slaves hid.
Underground Railroad Scholar Charles L. Blockson recently wrote:
The proposed development plan for the historic Corson homestead at Butler and Germantown Pikes in the heart of the Plymouth Meeting National Historic Register District is cause for profound concern. As drawn, this plan fails to recognize the unmatched and nuanced history of this once busy station on the Underground Railroad.
The development proposal — under review by the Whitemarsh Township Board of Supervisors — depicts 67 townhouses. They will be erected upon land that had been continuously cultivated since the mid-1700s, land that helped sustain the Corson family (and the generation before them) during the half-century of anti-slavery activism that made this homestead a hub of Underground Railroad activities.
Furthermore, the development comes within 50 feet of Abolition Hall (emphasis added), which George Corson constructed in 1856 to welcome seekers and speakers, including Frederick Douglass, Lucretia Mott, and William Lloyd Garrison.
To be clear, Friends of Abolition Hall and their allies do not oppose development on the site. Instead, we want the developer to present a plan, which respects that which came before.
The Board of Supervisors will not make a decision on Thursday. Fact is, the drama will be far from over even when a zoning decision is made. So in the coming months, I will use search engine tools to tell the story of Abolition Hall to prospective buyers at the Villages at Whitemarsh.
In the meantime, Avenging The Ancestors Coalition is providing free roundtrip rides to the July 19 meeting. Meet ATAC at 6:00pm at Zion Baptist Church, Broad and Venango.