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Two African American Historical Sites Added To U.S. Endangered Historic Places List

The building that was once the epicenter of the country’s oldest all-black town, founded by formerly enslaved African Americans. Some of the oldest homes built by African Americans in New England.

Both the I.T. Montgomery House in Mound Bayou, MS and the Mary and Eliza Freeman Houses in Bridgeport, CT are now listed National Trust of Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

These national treasures are among the historic preservation projects that the National Trust has deemed a top priority in telling and sharing the untold stories of Black America.

The designation paves the way restore these African-American historic properties, “and save places that tell the full story of our nations,” said Brent Leggs, director of The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.

“These are special places that highlight and tell the story of the Black Experience in America,” Leggs said. Through the Action Fund, our aspiration is to uplift African American activism and community to tell the full history…and continue to build on efforts to save these places.”

Here’s more about the recent additions:

Mississippi Heritage Trust

I.T. Montgomery House: The home of Isaiah T. Montgomery, who, after Reconstruction, purchased a land in Mound Bayou, Miss. that became the site of an economically thriving all-black town that President Franklin D. Roosevelt would call, the jewel of the Delta.” “This building is a testimony to African-American resilience and economic sufficiency in the early 20th century South,” Leggs said.

Jordan Soronson

Freeman Houses: The oldest surviving homes that made up “Little Liberia, a community of “free people of color” in Bridgeport, Conn. that was built nearly 200 years ago. However, the homes have since fallen into disrepair, and also faced pressure from foreclosure and demolition, Leggs said.

But Leggs said over the last 30 years, fewer than five percent of the sites on the list have been lost, and the goal for both sites is to highlight the history and create contemporary spaces for generations to come.

For more information or to donate to the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, please visit http://www.savingplaces.org.

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