Million dollar Douglass center sits vacant

Million dollar Douglass center sits vacant

Overview

By Melanie Johnson

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — About $1 million in funding went into establishing the Frederick Douglass Resource Center, but the building now sits vacant; doors locked and phones disconnected.

“We have not found the funds to keep it open, maintain some type of a staff and therefore you have ceased operations,” said Errol Hunt, property owner and former pastor of Rochester’s African Methodist Zion Church.

Chamber of Commerce CEO Bob Duffy was the mayor when the Douglass Resource Center officially opened back in 2009. He says it was supposed to house artifacts of the abolitionist.

“I will certainly ask questions and see what we can do and as opposed to pointing the finger and the blame I think we should find out what needs to happen and get some very passionate supporters behind and bring some life back to it,” Duffy said.

Former mayor Bill Johnson, who was in office during the process of the resource center being built, says it should be a public institution.

“It shouldn’t be privately owned,” Johnson said. “It should be in that panoply of resources that the city or the county maintains. Frederick Douglass was not a private citizen. He was a public man who brought tremendous honor to this city. ”

The lack of a museum here Rochester is even more disappointing to someone who has dedicated a majority of their life to preserving Frederick Douglass’ legacy.

“It angers me because so much has taken place here and we keep losing not just Douglass memorabilia, but we lost the whole picture,” said Dr. David Anderson.

Rochester’s year-long celebration of the Douglass’ birthday bicentennial has the city wanting more.