William Goodridge House And Museum - York, PA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
N 39° 57.884 W 076° 43.549
18S E 352605 N 4425269
Quick Description: This is an important site of a businessman, abolitionist who started his life born into slavery and became an important figure in the Underground Railroad. The site is marked by two historic signs in front of his house. Today the house is a museum.
Location: Pennsylvania, United States
Date Posted: 5/27/2013 3:50:43 PM
Waymark Code: WMH5WA
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member MrsMcFly
Views: 2

Long Description:

At 123 Philadelphia street is the home of this prominent York man. It is well marked by two signs, one an official PA historic blue marker, another, am interpretive, sign of history by Pennsylvania Civil War Trails, no relation or association to the Civil War Discovery Trail Sites

The sign overlooks his home and is street side. This sign of history is part of the PA Civil War Trails. The Pennsylvania Civil War Trails lets people discover the Civil War where it happened and fully appreciate the cost and sacrifice of PA's Commonwealth in the struggle for justice and equality. The signs immerse the readers/visitors in the real-life stories, road trips using ultra-high resolution panoramic photos. They signs are designed for people to experience firsthand the people, places, and events that shaped Pennsylvania's Civil War heritage.

The Goodridge house, located at 123 East Philadelphia Street in York, was an important station on the Underground Railroad network. Fugitive slaves escaping from southern states would cross the into York County where they could find temporary refuge at the Goodridge House, or other known Underground Railroad stations in York and surrounding areas. As a member of this network of people and places, Goodridge showed great conviction and courage. Goodridge risked his life, freedom, and fortune by allowing his personal and commercial properties to be used as stations on the Underground Railroad. A secret hiding place located below the kitchen in the Goodridge home was used to conceal fugitives until it was safe to deliver them to other Underground Railroad conductors. Secret rooms and passages were also found in commercial properties owned by Goodridge. His Reliance Line railroad cars were used to smuggle fugitives so they could make their escape further north. SOURCE

The sign of history reads:


Born into slavery in 1805, WIlliam C. Goodridge was sent to York at age six to apprentice as a tanner. At age 16, Goodridge was given his freedom, left York and was trained as a barber. He returned to York in the 1820s. After opening a berber shop on Centre Square, Goodridge rose to prominence as one of York's most successful businessmen. He expanded his store to include imported toys, candies, perfumes, hair remedies, and much more. He also became a property owner and developer, constructing York's first 4.5 story building and owning up to twelve properties at one time. Goodridge began the Reliance Line of railcars, eventually providing service between York and Philadelphia.

In addition to his business ventures, he also became prominent on the Underground Railroad. His properties, including this house as well as Centre Hal on the Square, served as stations. Runaway slaves were hidden in the root cellar of his home, which was accessible via a hidden door in the kitchen floor. The goodridge railcars were also used to transport runaway slaves to safety. Goodridge was a notable York resident until the mid-1860s, when he left to join family members in Minnesota and thereafter, Michigan.

The house and museum are area attractions. Here is the advertisement for that: Visit the home of William C. Goodridge, one of the area's most active Underground Railroad stationmasters. A prominent African American businessman in York, Goodridge built the tallest building of its time in York City, and often hosted anti-slavery meetings with noted abolitionists. Goodridge worked in a variety of fields during his life, but the one most connected with the Quest for Freedom involved Goodridge's work with the railroad industry. The Goodridge Reliance Line comprised 13 railroad cars serving 20 PA communities. Goodridge used his rail cars to transport escaping slaves along the Underground Railroad. Goodridge also hid fugitive slaves inside his house, in a secret room at the back of his basement, and in a straw lined trench located under a building at the back of his house. Today his home still stands as evidence to the drive and ambition necessary for a black man in his time to build the kind of wealth and standing that Goodridge possessed in the York community, but also as a testament to the extreme humanity he exhibited through selfless acts as he risked his own life to guide escaping slaves to freedom. SOURCE

123 Philadelphia Street
(The Lincoln Highway)
York, PA USA

Web site: [Web Link]

Site Details: Currently & Temporarily Closed to the Public for Rennovations

Open to the public?: Public

Name of organization who placed the marker: Pennsylvania Historic Marker Program

Visit Instructions:
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