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A 'lot of opportunity' for Tubman Home Park in coming years

Payne Horning
The Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn, which became a National Historical Park in January, will undergo several upgrades.

Officials working on the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn, which Congress established as a national historical park in January, say there's a lot in store for the facility over the next few years. 

The executive director of the Tubman home, Karen Hill, says with the recent national park designation and upcoming release of the $20 Tubman bill, the revered conductor of the underground railroad is finally getting the kind of recognition she deserves.

"There was a woman named Harriet who literally changed the face of our America, who understood that democracy at that time meant freedom," Hill said. 

Hill says possible improvements for the park include a new visitor center and finishing the rehabilitation of Tubman's residence. But Frank Barrows with the National Park Service says those projects are still several years away from completion.

"This is careful, methodical work," Barrow said. "It takes a lot of time but it builds a strong foundation for a place which will be a national park forever."

Barrows says officials are still in the study phase.

"This national park is a gift to future generations, so doing this kind of work not only helps us with management decisions but helps us to connect visitors to how the resources were used traditionally and how we can best connect them to those resources through visitor experiences," Barrows said. 

Credit Payne Horning / WRVO News
WRVO News File Photo
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, left, and Karen Hill, executive director of the Harriet Tubman Home National Historical Park, discuss the revered underground railroad conductor's contributions to the abolition and suffrage movements.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who helped lead the effort to establish the Tubman Home park, says it could also get federal funding for the country's centennial celebration of women gaining the right to vote. Congress recently passed the Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission Act to support education programs across the country. 

"She was one of the leading voices for suffrage in her lifetime," Gillibrand said. "And a place like, this a national park, would be eligible to apply for grant money to talk about why Harriet Tubman's life was so relevant to women's rights, to teach schoolchildren, teach the community and have celebratory events."

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.