Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum

Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum

The Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum, a nationally recognized historical site, welcomes anyone interested in learning how a small community library enriched Portsmouth from 1945 until 1963.

The historic Library is now Portsmouth’s fifth city-operated museum. Celebrating Portsmouth African American history, the Museum’s exhibitions include photographs and memorabilia, as well as African American books and journals from the former Library.

Recognizing the significance of Portsmouth African American trailblazers and organizations, the Museum also salutes the historic Portsmouth African American community.

Children who visit the Museum will enjoy fun hands-on activities, storytelling and interactive programs designed to promote pride, cultural diversity, activism, and understanding of local African American Portsmouth history.

It is a one-story, three bay, brick building with a hipped roof. It was built to provide for the reading needs of Portsmouth's African Americans.

In 1959, two local dentists, Dr. James Holley and Dr. Hugo A. Owens, successfully sued the City of Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Public Library to integrate the public library, which resulted in the closure of the Portsmouth Community Library.

The building has been relocated twice since it was closed in 1962 after integration of the public library system; first in 1967 to the parking lot of Ebenezer Baptist Church, 730 Effingham Street, then since August 2007, it has been located at the present location, 904 Elm Avenue.

Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.