Tuesday, April 27, 2010
A fascinating relic from the War Between the States still exists in downtown Memphis. Known as Slave Haven, or the Burkle Estate, the small white clapboard house (built between 1849 and 1856) on 826 N. 2nd Street is believed to have been a way station of the Underground Railroad. The house was built by Jacob Burkle, a German immigrant, who also assisted slaves to their freedom by hiding them in a cellar until they could escape north through tunnels leading to the Mississippi River. Slaves then obtained passage on boats traveling up to the Ohio River.
There are four underground tunnels in Memphis that were major arteries of the Underground Railroad. The house is marked by two large magnolia trees that were a signal to slaves because of their evergreen leaves. The house is furnished with Victorian furniture, and one room displays quilts that were used by slaves as maps to their freedom. In 1978, the family revealed that the Burkle Estate had been part of Underground Railroad, and the house was opened as museum in 1997.