FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Rochester, NY, 3/9/23 — Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI) is pleased to announce it has signed a purchase and sale agreement to acquire 140 E. Main Street, also known as the Atrium Building, in downtown Rochester, NY, for the development of the Frederick Douglass Museum Center for Knowledge, Equality & Justice. The Museum Center will be an international place of learning that honors and advances the work of Frederick Douglass, the acclaimed writer, publisher, statesman, orator, and freedom fighter who was a longtime resident of Rochester. The legacies of Douglass, and his wife, Anna Murray Douglass, continue to serve as guiding lights in the quest for racial equity and an end to human exploitation.
The signing took place on the eve of Frederick Douglass’s 205th birthday. Upon signing, FDFI Co-Founder and President Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., the great-great-great-grandson of Frederick Douglass, spoke to the importance of the Museum Center locally, nationally and globally. “The Frederick Douglass Museum Center is a key part of FDFI’s work to honor and preserve the legacy of Frederick Douglass and his family. We are thrilled the Rochester community and visitors from across the country and around the globe will be able to come to this place to not only touch, feel and learn about what my great ancestors did, but to be inspired to find their own path to creating positive change in the world.”
FDFI is a nonprofit focused on antiracist education and ending human trafficking. Founded in 2007 by descendants of Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass, FDFI has been headquartered in Rochester since 2019, and is strongly invested in supporting justice, equality and knowledge in the local community and beyond.
FDFI chose Rochester for the Museum Center because of Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass’ deep ties to the city. The Douglass family moved to Rochester from Massachusetts in 1847 and lived on Alexander Street for more than two decades, where they played an important role in the abolitionist community, including running a stop on the Underground Railroad from their home. Rochester also became their final resting place as Frederick, Anna and their daughter, Annie, are buried together in the city’s Mt. Hope Cemetery.
FDFI Executive Director Erica Mock spoke to this history at an event to celebrate the signing. “The planned Museum Center site is just blocks away from the Talman Building, where Frederick Douglass and his family published the abolitionist newspapers The North Star and Frederick Douglass’ Paper. The entire Douglass family lived, and live their lives today, by their united conviction, ‘why not we endure hardship that our race may be free?’ This space will be dedicated to lifting up their legacies and shining a light on what we can all do to advance the causes of equality and justice throughout the world.”
At the same event, Rochester Mayor Malik Evans underscored the Douglass family’s legacy in Rochester and emphasized the potential impact the Museum Center will have on revitalizing the downtown area, explaining, “This is transformative for Rochester, not only from a historical standpoint but from an economic development standpoint.”
United States Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also shared his support for the Museum Center’s development in downtown Rochester, saying, “I applaud the plans of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI) and the descendants of Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass to establish the Frederick Douglass Museum Center in downtown Rochester. Your efforts to establish a world-class museum dedicated to educating visitors about the life story of Frederick Douglass would foster local and regional economic development by being integral to developing an essential cultural corridor anchor in downtown Rochester. A Frederick Douglass Museum Center would attract tour groups, history buffs, class trips, activists, and lifelong learners to Rochester while creating new economic development opportunities for Rochester residents and the region.”
FDFI entered into the purchase and sales agreement with the current owner of the Atrium Building, Bob Bartosiewicz, CEO of CGI Communications. The next steps include an architectural review of the building site. FDFI will announce further details as they become available.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact FDFI Executive Director Erica Mock at 585-286-9029 or EMock@fdfi.org.
Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives is a Rochester, NY-based 501(c)(3) public charity with a mission to build strong children and to end systems of exploitation and oppression.