By Steve Waldron
The Schoolcraft Historical Society is in the process of preparing for the 50th anniversary of the Dr. Nathan Thomas Underground Railroad House Museum in 2025. It includes a fundraising campaign to deal with current and expected needs of the building and grounds.
The museum is listed on the National Park Services site and the National Register of Historic Places. It’s cited in numerous travel sites as a must-see stop. This museum annually receives hundreds of visitors who hear the story regarding the Thomas family and their role as abolitionists supporting the underground railroad during the mid-1800’s. For 20 years, the Thomas family used their home, this structure, as a “station” for an estimated 1,000 escaping slaves seeking freedom on the underground railroad.
Maintaining such an old structure is not easy. Looking towards the museum’s 50th anniversary of service, the Society is working to ensure that the structure continues to meet the standards of preservation and continuing serving the public for decades to come. A fundraising campaign is underway seeking $95,000. Among the needs:
- The roof needs to be resealed.
- The 188-year-old foundation needs to be secured.
- New energy efficient windows. Some are from the original 1835 house.
- Deteriorated wood siding needs to be addressed along with repainting the exterior.
- The wooden front picket fence has been removed and is awaiting replacement.
- Various updates are needed to ensure the interior remains suitable for presentation.
Those would like to contribute to the building renewal can find many ways to help, through volunteering expertise and talent or a financial contribution.
Checks made out to the Schoolcraft Historical Society can be mailed to Dr. Thomas House Renewal Project, P.O. Box 451, Schoolcraft, MI 49087, or by making a contribution to a Go Fund Me.