The manager of the newly-renamed Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site says Thursday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $3.8 million interpretive center has been a "long time coming." Plans have been in the works, Joanna Hahn says, for 15 years and construction has taken two years. The new center is part of the more than $18 million INVision campaign and effort designed to improve 11 historic sites throughout the state to honor The Indiana State Museum and Historical Sites’ 150th anniversary. Hahn tells Inside INdiana Business Multimedia Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman the center is located next to the Coffin house on the site of the former Seybold-Price House, which has been disassembled and re-purposed as parts of the new building.
The site honors the Coffins, a Quaker couple who is thought to have assisted more than 2,000 American slaves successfully escape to freedom at their Wayne County home. The Coffin house has earned the nickname "The Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad." The new interpretive center will now be opened year-round, a change from previous years where the site was only opened seasonally. Officials believe it will boost attendance. Hahn says "we’re excited to be able to expand the story of Levi Coffin and his wife Catharine, as well as tell a more national story of the Underground Railroad."
The site will open to the public Saturday and feature a new exhibition "Souls Seeking Safety: Bringing Indiana’s Underground Railroad Experience to Life." It demonstrates how individuals battled the economics of the early-1800s designed to support slavery. You can connect to more about the site by clicking here.