It’s not every day that somebody finds a secret room in their home. In fact, we’d say that it’s probably a fairly rare thing to happen.
Alexandra Poulos, however, did just that very thing and what surprised her was the possible part that her newfound room may have had in ending slavery.
The slave trade is one of the United States’ biggest sources of shame and it took the actions of many brave men and women to bring it to an end. So, you may be as surprised as Alexandra Poulos was by the secrets of this hidden room. Let’s take a look together, shall we?
10. The House
The house itself is in Landsdowne, Pennsylvania. It was purchased back in 1974. It’s built in a plain colonial style with white exterior walls. It was used to raise a family in and would eventually be passed down to its current owner as an inheritance after her parents passed away.
9. Alexandra Poulos
Alexandra Poulos says that growing up in the house was a strange experience. She said that she regularly dreamed of secret rooms and that everyone else thought she was crazy for it. She would spend much of her time on dream interpretation sites trying to work out what they meant.
8. The Handover
Alexandra’s mother died in 2008 and she was desperate to ensure that the home she had grown up in remained in the family. So she asked her father to sign the building over to her before he passed away. He agreed and she took ownership of the home at that point. She had no idea what she would find in her new home.
7. No Sale But Rent
Many people tried to persuade her to sell the house but she wouldn’t let it go. However, she had to move away to find work and in the interim, she took on tenants. The tenants soon found they were dogged by issues that all seemed to stem from the basement.
6. The Basement Under The Basement
A neighbor had once told Poulos that her home had a basement below the basement. She’d dismissed this at the time but maybe there was something to it? A building team was brought in to excavate and sure enough, they found a room beneath the floor of the basement. But what linked this room to the slave trade?
5. The History
Once the basement room had been discovered, Poulos wanted to know why it was there. She turned to local history texts and historians to unearth a dramatic secret. The area in which she lived had been central to The Underground Railroad of the 19th century! It was possible her room was linked to that.
4. The Underground Railroad
In the 19th century, slavery had been abolished in some states. That meant there was a need to smuggle people from slave-owning states to free states. That was the purpose of the Underground Railroad – it allowed for the movement of slaves seeking freedom to places they could live as free people.
3. High-Risk Proposition
Many people risked their own freedom to help slaves escape the clutches of slavery. Thousands of slaves were helped by people appalled by slavery and by former slaves, like Harriet Tubman, pictured here. Attaining personal liberty had a huge price to be paid, but many believed it was worth paying.
2. The Fugitive Slave Act
Pennsylvania was a free state but the Fugitive Slave Act required people to return fugitive slaves to their owners and to help those owners in any manner possible to reclaim their property. So, slaves would have passed through the state on their way to safer places and thus would have been linked to the underground railroad there.
1. The Room Under The Basement
Is it possible that slaves hid in this under-basement room on their way to a free life in a free state? Yes, it is possible. However, it’s worth noting that not all local historians are convinced by this argument and they say that Alexandra will need to prove the connection before she can make this claim official.
So, there you have it. Was Alexandra’s secret room connected to the end of the slave trade and the Underground Railroad? The truth is that we’re not entirely sure.
There’s good evidence to suggest that hideaway facilities would have been needed for fleeing slaves on their dangerous route to the free states but there’s not enough evidence to show that’s what the room was used for. At least not yet, Alexandra has vowed to keep researching until she knows the truth.
What do you think? Tell us in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.