BRIDGEWATER (KDKA) — Demolition crews did more than tear down an old, abandoned building in Bridgewater today. They destroyed the old Dunlap Mansion, a national historic landmark that was once a safe house for slaves escaping to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
Some people thought it was ironic that the property was destroyed on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
“This is a desecration of a national treasure, this is not the way folks in power should be treating their constituency,” said Jacob Ritorto.
Ritorto said he made a last minute deal to buy the property but was told it was too late.
“They were not satisfied, and they were going to proceed with the demolition anyway” Ritorto said.
“At this point it was already too late,” building code official John Clay said.
The Borough of Bridgewater had a court order to demolish the mansion after giving the owner a year to sell the place or fix it up. Clay said the owner refused offers to sell the building and let it become a nuisance.
“It’s gotten to the point now where we had children going in, drug addicts going in, it was an issue of public safety,” Clay said.
Still the building had a rich history. A tunnel remains where slaves entered the building.
“For them to demolish this house, it has historical value, it makes no sense to me,” Maurissa Bergandy said.
“He wouldn’t sell it, and so a wrecking ball came and tore it down. Now we have nothing,” Joan Shanahan said.