B&Bs With Underground RR Ties

by Marti Mayne / Feb 10, 2009 / 1 comments

Commemorate Martin Luther King’s Birthday and Black History Month by staying in places where slaves were welcomed.  Here is a list of interesting Bed and Breakfasts.


Austin, TX – Throughout January and February, Americans celebrate the history and accomplishments of African-Americans with Martin Luther King’s birthday in January and Black History Month in February. In recognition, one B&B website, BedandBreakfast.com describes Bed and Breakfasts that were once “conductors” or “stations” on what came to be known as the Underground Railroad. A popular road trip for educators and history buffs to relive history often involves a stay at one of these historic BedandBreakfast.com B&Bs, listed below, alphabetically by state. Relive history by staying where slaves were once welcomed or taking advantage of packages designed to explore the myths and stories of the Underground Railroad.


Amelia Island Williams House, Fernandina Beach, FL: According to family stories, Marcellus A. Williams  bought this home in 1859, allowing escaped slaves following the Underground Railroad to use his home as a haven during their journey to freedom. Built in 1856, word has it this mansion included a trap door in the dining room closet, offering access to a secret room where slaves could hide.


Mason House Inn and Caboose Cottage, Bentonsport, IA: During the Civil War, the Mason House was used as a "holding hospital" for wounded soldiers awaiting transport by train or boat to the hospital in nearby Keokuk. It was also a station on the Underground Railroad.  Accounts from family members who once lived in the home describe delivering food at night to the farm’s hayloft where escaped slaves hid.


The Steamboat House, Galena, IL:  Built by a steamboat captain and his physician wife, the couple raised 10 children in this house.  She participated in the Underground Railroad before and during the Civil War.  A tunnel still remains under the house, which offered an escape route for slaves.

Across the Way B&B, in White Horse, PA



Inn at Aberdeen, Valparaiso, IN: The renovation of this 18th century home revealed a hidden ladder beneath the old entry closet floor, leading the owners to believe that the house served as a way station for the Underground Railroad. The inn to linked a known “safe site” in nearby Hebron with other locations to the north.


Christopher’s B&B, Newport, KY: Throughout 2009, stay in the Loretta or Beverly Rose Junior Jacuzzi room and receive two adult tickets to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Through museum exhibits and films, learn how enslaved Black Americans were able to achieve freedom against overwhelming odds. The package price is $140 and includes a one-night stay and two adult tickets to the Freedom Center.


Hall Place B&B, Glasgow, KY: Here is one place where the Underground Railroad was literally underground. A cave under this B&B linked to a network of other caves that eventually surfaced at a nearby spring. Access to the caves through this B&B and a number of other nearby homes gave this area the nickname “Cave City”. Judge Christopher Tompkins, once a teacher for Abraham Lincoln and an Underground Railroad supporter, built Hall Place for his daughter. When he died, his will provided lifetime care for each of his slaves.


Ashley Manor, Barnstable, MA: Dating back to 1699, this historic B&B has a secret passage that connects the upstairs and downstairs, thought to be a hiding place for Tories during the Revolutionary War, and later, a temporary hideout for slaves. Allegedly, slaves climbed down a ladder, still found in the closet of the King George Suite, to reach the cellar, then fled into the night. Present owners have preserved the ladder which can be seen by guests staying there.


The Tern Inn & Cottages, Harwich, MA: Under the living room rug, a small round door leads to a unique little round cellar that has survived 150 years of restoration. The trap door is still easily found, as the floor sags and creaks when one walks over the spot. The cellar was used to hide runaway slaves awaiting ships going to Canada.


Lathrop House, Springfield, MA: This inn’s location is convenient for visiting the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, CT, providing an intimate glimpse into the life of the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Also about a half hour away is the Connecticut Freedom Trail, a tour of buildings reportedly used on the Underground Railroad.


Samuel Fitch House, Westford, MA: The innkeeper grew up in this home and spent hours climbing through a basement tunnel believed to be part of escaped slaves' route on the Underground Railroad. One of his childhood bedrooms has a walk-in closet with bookshelves in front of a removable wall, where it is believed slaves hid next to the warmth of the house's chimney. Guests can still explore the tunnels and see the movable walls on historic inn tours.


Cambridge House B&B, Cambridge, MD: Here’s a great lodging choice for those seeking to learn about Frederick Douglass and locally born Harriet Tubman. Visit the Harriet Tubman Museum, the Bethel Methodist Church where her family worshipped, the Stanley Institute -- a 19th-century African-American schoolhouse -- and follow the Underground Railroad trails through Dorchester and Caroline Counties.


Munro House, Jonesville, MI: Believed to be a station on the Underground Railroad, this house’s proximity to the Canadian border and the abolitionist stance of the original owner, George Clinton Munro, makes this legend plausible.  What is left of a 100-foot-long stone-walled tunnel leads to the basement where a secret room still large enough to hold 12 adults once hid runaway slaves (with hidden access through a downstairs ceiling).  Over 400 runaways allegedly spent at least a day hiding here on their way to freedom in Canada.

Across the Way B&B, in White Horse, PA



Escape Guest House, Brooklyn, NY: This B&B is just a short stroll from Plymouth Church, the “Grand Central Depot” of New York’s Underground Railroad. According to church history, slaves traveling to Canada were hidden in the tunnel-like basement beneath the church sanctuary; you can still visit there today. The church's first pastor, Henry Ward Beecher, was a dedicated abolitionist and younger brother to Harriet Beecher Stowe, famous author of Uncle Tom's Cabin.


Inn by the Mill, Saint Johnsville, NY: The inn is comprised of a collection of 19th century buildings, including a barn, carriage house, hog house, and a stone grist mill built alongside the Timmerman Creek. The mill was once part of the Underground Railroad and has three secret rooms below the basement floor. Stories are told about how each night, the water to the 30-foot waterwheel was shut off, allowing slaves to pass safely through the 1,000-foot-long water tunnel.


Saratoga Farmstead, Saratoga Springs, NY: Former owners and abolitionists Clarissa and Benjamin Dyer used the farmstead to connect to the Underground Railroad. According to some, a young black boy and his enslaved mother died while hiding in the attic. Legend tells that for many years thereafter, each time someone tried to climb the attic stairs, the boy’s ghost put an arm out, tripping the intruder and protecting his mother. During a session with a visiting expert on the paranormal, these ghosts were released to "the next level," and visitors can now navigate the stairs safely.


Whispering Pines B&B, Nebraska City, NE: A short stroll away from the inn is the Mayhew Cabin (aka John Brown’s Cave), one of the oldest buildings in Nebraska and currently Nebraska’s only recognized National Park Service Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site. In 1855, Allen B. Mayhew, with the aid of his father-in-law Abraham Kagi, built the cabin out of cottonwood logs. The Mayhew Cabin became a stop on the Underground Railroad in the late 1850s, used by slaves escaping to Canada.


Six Acres B&B, Cincinnati, OH: The Underground Railroad was very active in Southeast Ohio. Many Quaker families and others in the community courageously hid and conducted freedom seekers toward Canada. This beautiful home was built in the1850s by Zebulon Strong, noted abolitionist and participant in the Underground Railroad. It’s close proximity to Cincinnati’s National Underground Railroad Freedom Center makes it a great choice for those wishing to learn more about the Underground RR.


1830 Hallauer House B&B, Oberlin, OH: Many clues demonstrate how residents in this house aided slaves as they traveled on the Underground Railroad from Wellington through Oberlin and north to Lake Erie. A dry cistern with an adjacent thick-walled secret room and a concealed opening offered shelter on moonless nights. Just above the hidden room, a rectangular opening concealed by a wooden plug offered the family access to communicate and provide food to those hidden below.


Columbian Inn, A Bed and Breakfast, Columbia, PA: Pennsylvania was filled with stops on the Underground Railroad, as the Amish and the Quakers were particularly sympathetic to the desperate search for freedom. This inn was a known stop along the Underground Railroad.


Passages Inn, Gettysburg, PA: Located near the cemetery honoring “Negro” veterans, take the “Freedom Lies Just North” Underground Railroad tour of Adams County while you enjoy a stay at Passages. Learn how local Quakers sheltered escaping slaves while aiding their passage to freedom. The Freedom package includes two nights’ accommodations, daily gourmet breakfast, guided town tour, “Freedom Lies Just North” program, plus a visit to the newly opened Wills House/Lincoln Museum where “the Great Emancipator” stayed before delivering the Gettysburg Address. Cost: $350 per couple; offered the last three weekends in February. 

Speedwell Forge B&B in Lititz, PA


Speedwell Forge B&B, Lititz, PA: During Black History Month, stay here and explore the plight of escaping slaves with the nearby Bethel AME "Living the Experience" tour. This eye-opening and spiritually moving experience begins and ends at the Lancaster Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a station on the Underground Railroad. Learn how the Amish supposedly played a part, crafting quilts that led people to safety, now a commonly disputed myth.


Tattersall Inn, Pt. Pleasant, PA: An underground concealed room once used as a stop on the Underground Railroad is found in the original part of this circa 1753 building. Just two blocks away, a containment of rooms with tunnels leading toward the river can be found in a former hotel-turned-store.


Great Valley House of Valley Forge, Valley Forge, PA: Owner and innkeeper Pattye Benson avidly shares many interesting stories of hidden rooms at this circa 1690 inn where she has lived for 23 years. A tunnel from the main house, originally built to store vegetables, was later prepared as an escape should the British attack during the Revolutionary War.  Although not needed then,  in the 19th century it was used to house slaves moving north along the Underground Railroad. Two green doors remain as an important tribute to this escape route.


Across the Way B&B Fassitt Mansion, White Horse, PA: Located halfway between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, this 1845 mansion was built by Captain William Fassitt as a way to entertain guests and throw lavish parties. Yet it was also a known “safe house” on the Underground Railroad, it was also a frequent stop for freedom seekers heading north.


Golden Stage Inn, Proctorsville, VT: Under the ownership of Universalist preacher Reverend Warren Skinner, the inn was a stop on the Underground Railroad for fleeing slaves making their way to Canada. Skinner was known locally for his sympathetic views on slavery.


Hamilton House B&B, Whitewater, WI: Rumor has it that a number of secret tunnels led from this historic inn to nearby homes and the train depot. These tunnels are believed to be a part of the Underground Railroad.


Elkhorn Inn & Theatre, Landgraff, WV: This inn is two minutes from  the newly restored Kimball World War I Memorial Building in Kimball, WV, the first (and only remaining) memorial to African-American soldiers of World War I who served from McDowell County, a center of coal mining and railroading. A number of special programs are planned for Martin Luther King’s birthday and throughout Black History Month.


To learn more about these and nearly 7,000 other perfect choices for your next B&B getaway visit BedandBreakfast.com, the leading online bed and breakfast directory and reservation network worldwide.

Marti Mayne is the B&B Editor for Wandering Educators.

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