The Underground Railroad Education Center in Albany will expand with a new interpretive center thanks to $2 million in funding announced by area officials on Wednesday.

The $2 million, secured through the New York State Capital Assistance Program, will help the planned center expand its community footprint on Livingston Avenue, attract more visitors and continue its educational mission, said Assembly Member Patricia Fahy, who was joined by Assembly Member John McDonald and others in announcing the funding.

The center is located in the former home of Harriet and Stephen Myers, a Black couple who lived there through the mid-1800s and helped freedom seekers on their way to Canada in the years leading up to the Civil War. Under the direction of its co-founders Mary Liz and Paul Stewart, the center has for years taught visitors on the role Albany and its underground railroad played in the anti-slavery movement.

The center will dedicate its new funding toward becoming more of a community anchor and tourist destination through a larger space for programming, expanded storage for artifacts, a commercial kitchen, a children’s center and more, said Fahy.

"Transformative in nature and the largest capital grant secured in recent memory for a local non-profit in the Capital Region, these funds will assist in the construction of UREC’s planned interpretive center, continue to preserve this part of our area’s history, and help further explain its contemporary relevance to tourists, visitors, and residents alike," Fahy said in a statement.

In a joint statement, Mary Liz and Paul Stewart called it “a great moment that helps UREC step forward in the creation of the Interpretive Center.”

The husband-and-wife team discovered the Myers residence through research of the Underground Railroad in the Capital Region. They co-founded the Underground Railroad History Project and purchased the Myers Residence from Albany County in 2007 for $1,500.