Construction is underway on a $10 million Equal Rights Heritage Center in Auburn. The goal of the facility is to highlight New York's history of promoting social and equal rights.
Auburn refers to itself as "History's Hometown." It's the site of the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, which preserves the famed Underground Railroad conductor's last residence. And the city is also home to the William Seward House Museum, which honors the legacy of the former abolitionist secretary of state who is best known for the purchase of Alaska.
Auburn city clerk Chuck Mason says the center will act as a regional welcome center to promote those stories and others.
"It's going to spotlight all of that great history and culture that we have with Tubman and Seward here in Auburn and other sites such as the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls and the Susan B Anthony home in Rochester," Mason said. "It’s going to be a center which is going to show the world everything that New Yorkers have done."
Mason says the center will be an asset for Auburn's downtown district as well as for the region. A visitor welcome center has been on the city's agenda for years. Officials sought funding for it in their ultimately unsuccessful application for New York's Downtown Revitalization Initiative.
The city donated 2 acres of land behind the Seward Museum for the center. Auburn and Cayuga County will operate it together, which is expected to open this October.