The Emmart-Pierpont Safe House
The Baltimorean safe house that served as an Underground Railroad station
"It's phenomenal that it's right here...it's too bad it isn't a little more well-known," Mia Woods, a 39-year-old social worker, noted in a 2011 Baltimore Sun article on the Emmart-Pierpont Safe House, a landmark of Baltimore County. A strange-looking house, painted white with a red roof, the Emmart-Pierpont Safe House is found on Rolling Road in Rockdale, near Randallstown, and, according to the Sun article, is the only recorded safe house for the enslaved in Baltimore County. The safe house was an Underground Railroad station: a safe shelter for the enslaved to rest and eat.
Built in 1791, withstanding every presidency within the country, the safe house was owned by a farmer and Underground Railroad stationmaster named Caleb Emmart. In his life, Emmart married a woman named Susannah Zimmerman who was an abolitionist along with her sister Elizabeth who was married to Nicholas Smith, a conductor on the Underground Railroad. Together, the four helped enslaved runaways. In the 1800s, Emmart and his family opened their home, the present-day Emmart-Pierpont Safe House, to enslaved runaways who were seeking shelter before continuing their path to freedom.
Although symbols were not commonly used in the secret Underground Railroad, under the Emmarts’ residence is a brick engraved with a symbol that represented freedom for the slaves. Shirley Supik, the current owner of the safe house along with her husband Jeff, states that they have never heard of another safe house that also had such a symbol. Additionally, Shirley Supik notes that Susanna and Elizabeth also bought enslaved individuals from slaveholder families, such as the Worthington family, to release them into freedom.
The Emmart-Pierpont Safe House has already been moved twice so that it could be preserved. In 2005, it was to be torn down by Baltimore County officials. However, due to community protests, the officials reconsidered. Since then, the significant safe house that sheltered enslaved individuals was named a historic county site. The brick with the symbol is now in the care of the Supik family, who continues to tell the history of the Emmart-Pierpont Safe House. As Shirley Supik states, she doesn’t own the house; the house owns her and her husband.