Hill confirmed that COVID-19, not the ongoing road construction, is the main reason the property has been closed to the public. There were preliminary plans to reopen at the end of last summer, but it was unclear how the park would adopt protocols to operate amid the pandemic.
The main attraction for visitors is the Home for the Aged, which Tubman opened to care for elderly people. For years, tours have taken place inside the home.
If the park reopens this summer, it’s possible that visitors will not be allowed in the Harriet Tubman Home. Hill said they haven’t determined whether buildings — there is also a visitor center — will be open to the public.
There will be guided tours, she said, and photos will be displayed outside of the visitor center to show visitors the interior of the Home for the Aged.
The pandemic prevented the Harriet Tubman Home and national historical park from capitalizing on the release of the 2019 film, “Harriet,” about Tubman’s life. The movie led to increased interest in Auburn’s Tubman sites. Summer bus trips were scheduled. Others informed the Harriet Tubman Home that they would visit sometime in 2020.
There have been other Tubman-related developments since the movie’s release. Shortly after President Joe Biden took office in January, he committed to putting the abolitionist’s likeness on the $20 bill. In the past, these stories would generate more interest in Tubman and, as a result, would increase visitation at her former property in Auburn.
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