In the years following Emancipation, hundreds of Freedom Colonies were founded by Black men and women. Most families engaged in farming, and soon each community organized churches, schools, and fraternal lodges. The buildings they constructed to house these institutions are important landmarks and are often the only remaining vestiges of these largely vanishing communities.
Demographic changes caused by migration to urban areas throughout the 20th century led to the collapse of most rural Freedom Colonies. Integration and consolidation of rural schools and shrinking congregations left many schools, churches, and lodge halls without a purpose and remaining residents lacked the resources to maintain them. Many of these structures are in serious decline.
Preservation Texas has secured funds from the National Park Service to provide grants to eleven sites through its Texas Rural African-American Heritage Grants Program. With the addition of an Endangered Properties Manager to the staff, Preservation Texas will work with the stewards of these eleven structures to ensure their preservation projects are a success. They will be listed on the National Register of Historic Places and protected with preservation easements. PT will also work with these sites on a larger, long-term heritage tourism and interpretation strategy to build awareness of and increase access to these long-neglected historic resources.
For more informaton, contact: Preservation Texas