Seymour Finney conducted one of the principal passenger depots of the underground railroad in the Detroit area. Finney, a tailor by trade, later became a hotel-keeper, and it was in this capacity that he assisted fugitive slaves in the era prior to 1861. In 1850 he purchased a site where in later years stood the Finney Hotel, and also erected a large barn which he operated along with his tavern. Strongly sympathetic to the abolitionist cause, Finney employed every means to assist escaping slaves across the river into Canada. Detroit was one of the most important "stations" en route to Canada; if a fugitive reached this city, he was comparatively safe. Finney Barn served as a hiding-place for runaways until they could reach the river bank and freedom.