The Historic First Congregational Church of Detroit has a rich history and remarkable story of the Underground Railroad. One of the most active members, Frances Eddy describes the beginnings of the church’s involvement with the Underground Railroad.
As told by Frances Eddy:
“One of the most important stations in Detroit was headed by Seymour Finney, owner of Finney’s Hotel at Woodward and Gratiot, with the hotel barn at State & Griswold. At first there was a profound secrecy about the goings-on, but Seymour continued to do all he could, as he considered slavery contrary to justice and humanity. The basement of the First Congregational Church of Detroit, at Fort and Wayne Streets, was used to hide refugees en route to boats at the foot of Wayne Street (now Washington Boulevard), smuggling them across to Windsor. Popular sentiment rallied to Finney’s support. Many times, when the hotel housed pursuing masters, Finney was lodging the slaves in his barn. It is said that grateful black men sometimes assumed Finney’s name after their arrival in Canada.”
In 2001, the congregation of the Historic First Congregational Church of Detroit had a vision with a mission to capture and sustain the national legacy of the Underground Railroad for researchers, educators, non-profit organizations and their constituencies. From this vision and mission the Underground Railroad Living Museum was born.
Mission of the Friends of First Living Museum
The mission of the Friends of First Living Museum is to provide transformational learning opportunities that result in positive change in the life of the “young in age” and the “young at heart.” It does this by providing interactive “hands on” living experiences which result in more confident, competent, caring individuals with increased understanding and respect for all cultures, races and religions.
Board Members of the Friends of First Living Museum
- Dr. Cindy A. Rice, Pastor and Board Chair
- David Teeter, Secretary
- Dr. Lottie Jones Hood, Pastor Emeritus
- Erie Smith
- Jan Lossing
- Beth Borland
- Al Rice
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