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‘Preserving African-American Historic Places’ is site’s focus

Individuals and groups that want to save important remnants of African-American history now have a new resource to guide them, thanks to MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation.

Griggs Hall, the first building constructed in 1923 on the campus of Nashville’s American Baptist College, is on the cover of a new online research guide, “Preserving African-American Historic Places: Suggestions and Sources," prepared by MTSU's Center for Historic Preservation.

Griggs Hall, the first building constructed in 1923 on the campus of Nashville’s American Baptist College, is on the cover of a new online research guide, “Preserving African-American Historic Places: Suggestions and Sources,” prepared by MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation.

“Preserving African-American Historic Places: Suggestions and Sources” is an omnibus online site with information on collections care, museum management, heritage tourism and fundraising. You can find it here.

“It ties in with our philosophy of working with communities throughout the state on their preservation needs and interpretive needs,” said Dr. Antoinette Van Zelm, assistant director of MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation.

Dr. Antoinette Van Zelm

Dr. Antoinette Van Zelm

One example of a site the CHP already has helped to preserve is Griggs Hall, the first building constructed in 1923 on the campus of Nashville’s American Baptist College.

A marker erected by the Tennessee Historical Commission details how the school was an incubator for civil rights activism during segregation.

Other potential preservation sites include businesses, cemeteries, churches, farms, homes, neighborhoods and lodges.

Over the years, center staff and students have compiled numerous links to historic structure reports, heritage development plans, nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, driving and walking tour brochures and posts from the CHP’s blog, “Southern Rambles.”

“We want to make sure that people have access to different projects and programs that are similar to what they may want to do,” said Van Zelm.

CHP logo webSome organizations tie their preservation of the past to the enlightenment of future generations by setting aside an area for continuing education, she added.

“For example, some of the African-American schools that no longer exist after integration … have alumni associations, and they’re interested in preserving the school or opening up a heritage classroom,” Van Zelm said.

For more information, contact Van Zelm at 615-898-2947 or Antoinette.VanZelm@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Alumni of the Sitka Rosenwald School in Gibson County, Tennessee, pose in front of the building with Amanda Barry, back row left, a Center for Historic Preservation graduate research assistant. (Photo submitted)

Alumni of the Sitka Rosenwald School in Gibson County, Tennessee, pose in front of the building with Amanda Barry, back row left, a Center for Historic Preservation graduate research assistant. The former students shared their experiences at the school with Barry for community history purposes. (Photo submitted)

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