During the 1800s, the area of downtown Brooklyn was an enclave of abolitionist activity at a time when most New Yorkers supported slavery. 227 Abolitionist Place, located on Duffield Street, was one of the safe houses along the Underground Railway for African-Americans and indentured servants escaping slavery.
Today, 227 Duffield Street, now known as 227 Abolitionist Place, is the only remaining abolitionist home in downtown Brooklyn’s Fulton Mall and MetroTech. The house was brought by the Truesdells in 1850, in which it eventually became the home of Joy Chatel.
Since 2004, Ms. Chatel spent the majority of her time fighting New York City, who wanted to confiscate her home using eminent domain, destroy it and build an underground parking lot. After almost four years of advocacy and legal work, in late 2007, the city agreed to let Ms. Chatel preserve 227 Duffield Street. On September 20, 2007, Duffield Street was co-named Abolitionist Place.
It was during this time that Ms. Chatel converted her hair salon into a museum and heritage center. She provided tours and lectures for people from around the world, such as United Kingdom and Japan, to educate the public about New York’s role in the Abolitionist Movement and its involvement as the second largest slave trading state in the United States.
Joy Chatel and community activists’ achievements in protecting 227 Abolitionist Place is recognized by local publications as an inspirational story to all New Yorkers fighting for affordable housing, preserving cultural landmarks and respectable developments.
In memory of Joy Chatel, the community continues to work toward her dream by reopening 227 Abolitionist Place into a cultural museum and heritage center to educate New Yorkers about the American Abolitionist movement and slavery.