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Asheville

Rabbit’s Motel, a 1948 African American hotel and restaurant.

In 2019 Owen & Eastlake conducted the Asheville African American Heritage Survey in Asheville, North Carolina. The National Park Service Historic Preservation Fund provided a grant for the project, which was administered by the City of Asheville Department of Planning and Urban Design.

Owen & Eastlake initially identified historic black neighborhoods using the 1938 Works Progress Administration Real Estate Index. Two community meetings were conducted to identify sites, and interested community members were asked to participate in oral history interviews.

Owen & Eastlake worked with a community advisory board to identify survey themes, which included identification of buildings and sites that had survived numerous city urban renewal projects from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. The board’s input was the underpinning for subsequent research and field work that identified churches, schools, parks, and other institutional sites important to Asheville’s black heritage.

In all, the Owen & Eastlank team identified six historic African American neighborhoods and inventoried 71 historic buildings and sites.

A google map of the survey sites.

https://tinyurl.com/t2y8xx6

Things we find

We’ve spent the last year working on a National Register multiple property document, The Twentieth Century African American Civil Rights Movement in Ohio, for the Ohio History Connection with a grant from the National Park Service. Part of the our project was to go out and see how many future historic sites were still left.

One exciting find was, what we believe, is probably the last standing building that was a National Committee to Combat Fascism headquarters. NCCF chapters were precursors to Black Panther Party chapters. Members had to institute social programs for the community. Our building is located at 126 E. 4th Street in Lima, Ohio. It was briefly a NCCF headquarters in 1969-70. Members started a breakfast program for local youth.

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The NCCF headquarters was formerly a restaurant space before the group rented it.

Photo credit: Ohio History Connection)

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The Ohio National Guard raided the building on August 6, 1970, during the uprising in Lima stemming from a bicycle being left in the street and subsequent police involvement.

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The building is currently used as an ice cream shop.

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A chat with some workers during the visit revealed that the entire building interior was covered in Panther graffiti when the new owner purchased the building. We pulled the drywall above, cut out for a drive-through window, out of a dumpster (with their permission). Other parts are preserved under the drop ceiling and paneling.

A few previous projects

Today we’re reviewing a couple of our previous projects involving African American history.

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The Franklin Park Medical Center

Owen & Eastlake prepared this National Register of Historic Places which was listed in November, 2016. In 1962, two African American medical professional buildings opened in Ohio. The Franklin Park Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio  and the Medical Associates Building in Cleveland, Ohio. The nomination was supported by the Ohio Historic Tax Credit Pipeline Initiative. The program provides grants to list properties in the National Register of Historic Places in order to qualify for historic tax credits. The process was initiated by the Franklin County and City of Columbus land bank programs with community support

 

EDNA

The Edna

The Edna, located on East Long Street in Columbus, Ohio, was listed in the National Register on February 21, 2017. The 1902 mixed use building housed the Fireside Mutual Aid Association in 1919. It was founded by Truman Kenna Gibson Sr., the founder of the Supreme Life Insurance Company, later the largest black owned insurance company in the country. His son, Truman Kenna Gibson Jr. sold the NAACP magazine, The Crisis, in front of the building as a child. He would later become a member of Truman’s black cabinet and a civil rights leader. The nomination was supported by the Ohio Historic Tax Credit Pipeline Initiative. The program provides grants to list properties in the National Register of Historic Places in order to qualify for historic tax credits.

Theresa_Building,_Columbus

The Theresa Building

The 1925 Theresa Building was a black owned and operated professional building housing insurance companies, dentists and other professionals. It was listed in the National Register June 8, 2015. The nomination was supported by the Ohio Historic Tax Credit Pipeline Initiative. The program provides grants to list properties in the National Register of Historic Places in order to qualify for historic tax credits.

 

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Hanford Village George Washington Carver Addition

This African American veterans preference subdivision was listed on December 24, 2013 with national significance. The 1946 subdivision was home to not only World War II veterans but also Tuskegee Airmen, the 477th Composite Group, based in Columbus at Lockbourne Air Force Base.

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Pictured here are former Hanford Village residents Irma “Pete” Dryden and Charles “A-Train” Dryden. Irma Dryden was an army nurse and Tuskegee Airwomen while Charles Dryden was a fighter pilot with the 99th Pursuit Squadron, the “Redtails.” Although the character was a composite in the movie, Dryden’s nickname, “A-Train”, reflecting his New York City roots, was used by Cuba Gooding, Jr. when he starred in the 1995 made-for-television movie “The Tuskegee Airmen.”

Both lived in Hanford while based at Lockbourne Army Airforce Base near Columbus, Ohio, in 1946-1949.