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Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith Center for History and Democracy

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

RAA is working with LancasterHistory, an organization dedicated to chronicling Lancaster County’s heritage, to design the Thaddeus Stevens & Lydia Hamilton Smith Center for History & Democracy. The Center is located in the historic home of 19th century U.S. Congressman Thaddeus Stevens and his partner, Lydia Hamilton Smith. Stevens was a leader in the fight for free public education, a staunch abolitionist, a supporter of the Underground Railroad, and architect of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Lydia Hamilton Smith was an African American female entrepreneur, hotel owner, and philanthropist.

Interpreting the historic spaces, people, events, and legacies connected to Stevens and Smith offers a tremendous opportunity to expand visitor knowledge about a transformative time in the history of the United States. The Center will include three principal components: First, the home and law office of Congressman Thaddeus Stevens and the tavern Stevens owned adjacent to his dwelling and office will be restored, stabilized, rehabilitated, and interpreted. Second, exhibits will thoroughly reconsider the roles played by Stevens, Lydia Hamilton Smith, and other Pennsylvanians in Underground Railroad activities in the first half of the 19th century. Third, RAA will create new museum galleries interpreting the legacies of Stevens and Smith and the significance of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century.

Year 2025