Second graders from Dexter schools look forward every year to their visit to Dexter’s Gordon Hall, which is owned by the Dexter Area Historical Society (DAHS). Their tour there supports the Michigan history unit at school and teaches them about the man who founded Dexter and his family, who lived in the house from 1843 to 1900. One of the highlights is always the visit to the basement, where the students can see a room that, during the Civil War, was accessible only from a hatch in an outside porch floor. In that dark intriguing room, they love to imagine what it might have been like for runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad who could have passed through that space on their way to safety in Canada. But in 2015, the tours to that part of the house were discontinued after asbestos was discovered in the basement.
Late in 2016, DAHS reached out to the Dexter Lions and the Rotary Club of Dexter for funding to support professional removal of the asbestos. Each club responded with a grant of $5000. The Lions also pledged an additional $4000 to support building a handicap-accessible walkway at Gordon Hall, so that those with disabilities can more easily and safely get inside. DAHS engaged AMC Environmental (a local asbestos abatement and radon mitigation company that is run by Aaron and Mindy Croff out of Gregory) to do the asbestos work. It was completed in December before Christmas at the Mansion got started. The work on the accessible walkway will be completed in the spring of 2017.
DAHS wishes to thank the Lions, the Rotary, and AMC Environmental for their support of Gordon Hall and of the community that so loves it. The DAHS Mission is to preserve our history and inspire our community to connect the past with the future. When Dexter’s second graders visit Gordon Hall in the spring, they will again be able to visit that special room in the basement where their imaginations can connect them with their history.
Thank you to Caryl Burke for the information contained in this post.
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