$2-Million Need Jeopardizes Frederick Douglass Site

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   February 27, 2003
Contact:   Andrea Keller, 202-454-3332


$2-Million Need Jeopardizes Frederick Douglass Site

Washington, D.C. - The home of famous 19th-century African-American abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass is threatened by nearly $2 million of unmet preservation needs, according to a new report released today by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).

“Congress has an opportunity here to preserve the home of Frederick Douglass, a man born into slavery who escaped to freedom and helped change the nation,” said NPCA President Thomas Kiernan. “But urgent funding needs are putting the Douglass home—which stands as a reminder of the human yearning for freedom—at great risk. When we let historic sites like the Douglass house decay, we turn our backs to the very roots of our nation.”

According to NPCA’s new State of the Parks report, the historic 1850s home is in need of immediate repair. The National Park Service lacks critical funding and staff to meet day-to-day needs and to protect Mr. Douglass’ personal belongings and the integrity of the property.

For example, light has damaged several 19th-century photographs and Mr. Douglass’ treasured library collection has been removed from the home to prevent additional threats from ongoing moisture problems. Now, the shelves in the study sit empty and brown water stains color the ceilings and walls because funding is not available to restore the books and the home’s historic wallpaper.

Despite these needs, funding for the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site has essentially remained flat for several years—a mere $429,000 in fiscal year 2002. In 2001, NPCA named the park site to its annual list of America’s Ten Most Endangered National Parks because of dire funding needs.

Frederick Douglass lived in his Washington, D.C., home from 1877 until his death in 1895. He was a leading voice in the anti-slavery movement as well as a famous writer, publisher, orator, statesman, and an advocate for women’s rights. The National Park Service has cared for the Douglass home since 1962.

NPCA launched the landmark State of the Parks program in 2000 to assess the condition of natural and cultural resources in national parks across the country. The product of a yearlong analysis, “The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site: A Resource Assessment,” is the fifth NPCA State of the Parks report.

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