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Freedom Riders site unused, deteriorating

MONTGOMERY (AP)— The old Greyhound bus station where Freedom Riders were beaten in 1961 now sits empty, with only a sign on the sidewalk recounting how it was a historic tipping point in the civil rights movement.

The federal government, which owns the building, leased it to the state in 2000 in anticipation of it becoming a museum honoring the Freedom Riders. But its once busy waiting room remains silent.

Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller said he would like to see the building next to the federal courthouse preserved. But he recently warned state officials that if the building continues to deteriorate, it will become a security risk for the courthouse, and it will have to be torn down.

“The roof is within a few years of collapsing,” Fuller said.

John Neubauer, executive director of the Alabama Historical Commission, said Fuller is overstating the situation. “There are a couple of leaks, but structurally, it is sound,” he said.

Neubauer said the state intends to preserve the bus station and create a civil rights tourist attraction that would cost an estimated $7.5 million to $8 million. But right now, “the money is not there.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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