With one of Cape May’s oldest houses being renovated into a museum honoring Harriet Tubman, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Carol Murphy and Gordon Johnson designating Howell House as New Jersey’s official Harriet Tubman Museum was signed into law Thursday.
Howell House belongs to the historic Macedonia Baptist Church and was previously used as a parsonage. Renovations to convert the now vacant house into a Harriet Tubman museum are expected to be completed this year. The museum will showcase Tubman’s role as a champion of Civil Rights while highlighting her time working in Cape May to earn income in support of her Underground Railroad efforts.
Upon the bill (A-3201) becoming law, Assemblywoman Murphy (D-Burlington) and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) released the following joint statement:
“Harriet Tubman was a hero who not only freed herself, but returned to the South over a dozen times to lead at least 70 other slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Despite personal health problems and the threat of enslavement or death if caught, she courageously risked her own life in order to rescue others from slavery.
“It is a source of pride for our state that such an inspirational figure spent time in Cape May, earning money to support her Underground Railroad operations. Cape May is further connected to these historical efforts with countless escaped slaves having passed through the town on their way to freedom and the area having served as a center of abolitionist activity.
“This museum will honor her legacy and recognize our state’s connection to an important movement, while simultaneously preserving this historic building. It’s only fitting that we recognize Howell House as the official New Jersey Harriet Tubman Museum.”
Republican Assemblyman Antwan McClellan is also a sponsor of the legislation that is now law.