A North Carolina state historic site, an incubator of civil rights leaders – not only in North Carolina but throughout the world – recently was selected to receive federal preservation grant funding.
A $555,334 grant from the National Park Service African American Civil Rights Grant Program awarded in June will be used for the preservation of the Tea House at Charlotte Hawkins Brown State Historic Site in Sedalia, N.C.
“This National Park Service grant will enable us to preserve an important piece of Civil Rights era history and enhance efforts to interpret the legacy of Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown,” said D. Reid Wilson, secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
A previous NPS African American Civil Rights grant in 2018 paid for emergency preservation measures. The new funding will cover upgraded HVAC, electrical and plumbing and the creation of a kitchenette to support programming. The Tea House eventually will be opened to the public as an interpretive space.
The Tea House served as a social gathering place for students and embodied the spirit of prosperity, self-reliance, and industry that Brown espoused at the Palmer Memorial Institute, which served as a day and boarding school for African American youth. Brown taught students to be "educationally efficient, religiously sincere, and culturally secure," at the school that opened in 1902 and operated for 69 years, including the height of the Jim Crow era in the segregated South.
Closed after a fire in 1971, the school and surrounding property were acquired by the state of North Carolina in 1987 and opened it to the public as a state historic site. It serves as a memorial to Brown's contributions to African American civil rights history and is the only state historic site that exclusively interprets African American history during the Civil Rights movement and the only site to honor the accomplishments of a woman.
“We are beyond thrilled by the transformative possibilities these funds open up for new and expanded audiences to access our state’s rich and layered stories,” said Historic Sites Division Director Michelle Lanier.
The National Park Service (NPS) awarded $21 million 37 projects in 16 states as part of the Historic Preservation Fund’s African American Civil Rights grant program, which funds preservation projects and efforts of sites tied to the struggle of African Americans to gain equal rights.
This project is supported through a grant from the African American Civil Rights grant program of the Historic Preservation Fund as administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior. For more information about NPS historic preservation programs and grants, please visit https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/aacr-2023.htm.
About the National Park Service
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) manages, promotes, and enhances the things that people love about North Carolina – its diverse arts and culture, rich history, and spectacular natural areas. Through its programs, the department enhances education, stimulates economic development, improves public health, expands accessibility, and strengthens community resiliency.
The department manages over 100 locations across the state, including 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, five science museums, four aquariums, 35 state parks, four recreation areas, dozens of state trails and natural areas, the North Carolina Zoo, the North Carolina Symphony, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, the African American Heritage Commission, the American Indian Heritage Commission, the State Historic Preservation Office, the Office of State Archaeology, the Highway Historical Markers program, the N.C. Land and Water Fund, and the Natural Heritage Program. For more information, please visit www.ncdcr.gov.