The cramped room is damp and dark. Four exhausted runaway slaves sit huddled together on the hard-packed earth, frightened and ever-alert for any sign of approaching danger. Meager candlelight slants through the wooden slats of the hidden door above them. The Quaker "friends" who hurriedly ushered the fugitives in here, gave them food and water, then shut them inside, going about their business in the room above as if they weren't ever there.

At first glance, the Frankford Friends Meetinghouse seemed like any other simply designed Quaker construction. Built in 1836, it is the oldest framed meetinghouse of its kind in the country. But the Quakers, being God-loving and benevolent souls, had also built a small brick chamber beneath the main floor of their meetinghouse. It was so well camouflaged, that to this day, nobody knew it had been a haven of hope on the Underground Railroad. Until I inspected the basement one day.

I noticed it ran only half the length of the building itself. The other half was built directly on the earth. Odd to not have a full basement, I thought, but did not question it too much. But when I reached the meeting hall and began pulling up some floorboards that needed to be repaired, I made an amazing discovery. Built into the earth, underneath the floor, was the small brick chamber, completely separate from the basement, with no other access except through the floor of the meeting hall. After consulting some historical experts, I learned that the room was once used to house fugitive slaves.

Looking down into the dark chamber, I paused to consider the inhabitants' fear, courage, and hope. And the Quakers who helped them find their freedom. This unassuming Quaker façade had managed to fool everyone for over a century, making it an ideal station stop on the Underground Railroad. Now it will forever be a piece of history within a piece of history.