OBERLIN — City Council has approved plans to dedicate the new pavilion at the Underground Railroad Center to the late George Abram.
As the Oberlin Underground Railroad Center project neared the end of the second phase of construction, the center’s implementation team decided Aug. 8 it would like to dedicate the center to former team chairman George Abram for his service to the Oberlin community.
Abram, known as “The Voice of Oberlin,” died at age 89 on March 18 at the Hospice of the Western Reserve in Westlake. He served as chairman for the implementation team from 2009 to a short time before his death.
City Council President Bryan Burgess called him a pillar of the community at the Oct. 1 council meeting.
“His contributions in the past few years pertaining to the Oberlin Underground Railroad Center are very special to the community,” he said at the council meeting. “If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t be as far along as we are, and I couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute than to put something on that site with a memorial to him, recognizing his contributions to Oberlin.”
Abram’s family also attended the Oct. 1 meeting, thanking Council for honoring a man who played such an important part in their lives.
The dedication will include a memorial plaque to be installed on the pavilion when construction is finished, including a formal ceremony honoring him.
The Gasholder Building on South Main Street and surrounding land was announced to be repurposed as an Underground Railroad Center and park-n-ride facility in 2004.
The first phase of the project was finished in 2012, stabilizing and rehabilitating the outside of the Gasholder Building. That phase included a new roof, masonry work on the wall and the installing the new door and windows.
For the sake of funding, the second phase of the project was split into two parts — the first being completed in 2016. That included the installation of underground utilities, preparing the grounds surrounding the center for the latest round of work.
The final part of the second phase includes the construction of bicycle racks and fully-accessible restrooms.
A third phase will involve interior renovations to the Gasholder Building.