Black History: Plymouth Home Possible Link To Underground Railroad

Efforts are underway to save a house in disrepair near the Plymouth waterfront in Washington County that may have played an important role in the pathway to freedom for slaves.

Experts say what lies beneath 302 West Main Street was likely a stop on the underground railroad. Harry Thompson restores historic homes for the state and says, "This house was developed as a stop on the underground railroad and the slaves would hide out in the basement of this house until the Armsteads, a New England family of a shippers and abolitionists, had a ship leaving to go back to New England then they had a tunnel built from this house to the river. Slaves went down that tunnel, jumped on the ship, threw the ropes off and were gone in 15 minutes."

Will Oliver with the Main Street Committee says they hope to preserve the house and turn it into a museum.

Those efforts may have gotten a boost with the recent visit from Carl Westmoreland, the senior historian with the National Underground Railroad Foundation in Ohio.


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  • by Anonymous Cousin Location: Plymouth on Feb 22, 2011 at 04:06 PM
    My Hat is off to this fine group of historians who wish to preserve this important piece of African American history in Plymouth, N. C. If you search closely you might find a floor entrance in the front bedroom corner at the stoplight corner which may have lead right across diagonnaly to the old two story unpainted house which use to stand there. This was believed to have been a hospital during the civil war. The entrance in the front door piano area probably went straight across the street down past the old barbershop coming out into West Water St. /Sugar Hill which was the lower end tunnel. Mrs. Gladys Pettiford was a highly respected citizen of this community. As a midwife many children were born in her home, strangers were housed, ministers conducting revivals were boarded for the week with home cooked meals, homeless were taken in as well as early pulpmill employees rented rooms.THis no doubt in my opinion was an Underground Railroad used as a route to freedom.
  • by Darren Location: Kill Devil Hills on Feb 18, 2011 at 11:17 AM
    Well if it can make a profit for the state, then I'm all for it, but if it can't then there would be no need to waste the money. Whatever it takes to help out Northestern North Carolina! Oh how I miss Marc Basnight in office!
  • by Anonymous on Feb 17, 2011 at 10:33 PM
    what political party was MLK Jr registered with
  • by Anonymous on Feb 17, 2011 at 06:12 PM
    seems to me Martin Luther King Jr was a registered Republican...i certainly hope that's mentioned during black history month
  • by Larry Location: Plymouth on Feb 17, 2011 at 03:14 PM
    ok y did politics get put in this some people need to get a life
  • by Fact Bringer Location: Greenville on Feb 17, 2011 at 09:26 AM
    Dear History Student: I'm not sure what your argument is, but I assume it is about generalizing republicans and democrats with regard to racial issues dating back to slavery in the United States. If that is indeed the case, there were opponents and proponents to slavery in both parties, and in both the north and south. It is inept and irresponsible to make an association between one of the political parties and slavery overall.
  • by eric here on Feb 17, 2011 at 06:37 AM
    I think it’s cool to save a piece of the past the only thing historic from where I grew up was the site of some bloody battle.
  • by B Location: NC on Feb 17, 2011 at 05:54 AM
    History Student: Everyone knows that the Republican Party of today was the Democratic Party of that time. The concepts, ideologies and beliefs have been reversed over the years, as far as labeling/naming goes. Are you really a "History Student", or do you simply play one on WITN.com???
  • by JPH Location: Plymouth on Feb 17, 2011 at 05:17 AM
    I have lived in Plymouth most of my life and have seen historic places like this simply deteriorate beyond salvaging and once they are gone,a vital piece of history is lost. This house, in particular, is special to me because as a young man the lady that owned the property allowed me to enter this underground tunnel. I have watched this house fall into disrepair and am grateful that this group has seen the opportunity to save this landmark.The question is not what you look at, but what you see. Oh, and THANKS "Wash Co Native @ 9:45.
  • by History Teacher Location: Martin County on Feb 17, 2011 at 05:11 AM
    I think this is totally cool. It would be wonderful to have something like this so close to us here in Martin County. I hope it pans out & they can restore the house.
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