The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia was founded in 1981 by Carroll Anderson, Sr. In the spring of 2016, the Museum adopted a new location—the Leigh Street Armory. Prior to being the new home of the Museum, the Leigh Street Armory had endured a fire and decades of neglect and abandonment.
In 1981, the city declared the armory as surplus property. As a result, the building remained padlocked until 2002. However, a grant from Save America’s Treasures, a national historical site preservation program, agreed to fund the armory’s rehabilitation.
The structure had some of its exterior brickwork redone, new floors and a roof installed and was soon up-and-running once again.
The Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia celebrates the rich culture and moving histories of African American people in Virginia and their contributions to our magnificent country. We endeavor to tell a more complete and inclusive story about America.
Our mission is to preserve stories that inspire. For many of us Black history is reduced to a handful of moments and events. We remember the courageous and popular stories of Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, but there are many, many more.
Although Virginia’s past is sometimes painful, we can learn from our ancestors and allow that history to fuel our future.
The First Battalion Virginia Volunteers Armory, featuring brick towers and crenelation along the roof parapet, was built for an African American militia unit and is now the oldest of three identified black-affiliated armories in the U.S.
The Armory was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.