The Evansville African American Museum hosts Reviving Baptisttown’s Friday evening reception on August 18. On Saturday, August 19, talks by experts on cultural preservation will take place at Lincoln High School, which was built by the Baptisttown community. Sessions will cover using technology to tell the story of places lost and extant and re-purposing African American landmarks.
Keynote speaker Jeanne Cyriaque of College Park, Georgia, focuses on creating partnerships to preserve African American places and interpreting their stories. An advisor to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, she conducts heritage tourism assessments, develops digital content for such places, and provides technical assistance on adapting landmarks for new uses. She will discuss how to increase capacity for historic preservation in the African American community, with an emphasis on job creation and economic improvement.
In 1938, Evansville held the largest concentration of African Americans in southern Indiana, with the majority of its black residents living in an area known as Baptisttown, centered around Liberty Baptist Church at 7th and Oak streets.
The Baptisttown community thrived in the early twentieth century. Residents created their own schools, churches, civic clubs, hospital, and stores. To combat poor housing conditions in the 1930s, the community petitioned for federal housing. Eleanor Roosevelt presided over the 1938 grand opening of Lincoln Gardens, the second Federal housing project built under FDR’s New Deal. When Lincoln Gardens faced demolition in the 1990s, a group bought and turned one of the buildings into the Evansville African American Museum.
Lunch and a tour of Baptisttown follow the Saturday workshop. Reviving Baptisttown costs $50 per person ($35 for members of Indiana Landmarks), which includes the Friday evening reception, Saturday continental breakfast, workshop, lunch and tour. The workshop requires registration in advance: sign up at indianalandmarks.org or by calling 317-639-4534.
Indiana Landmarks revitalizes communities, reconnects us to our heritage, and saves meaningful places. With nine offices located throughout the state, Indiana Landmarks helps people rescue endangered landmarks and restore historic neighborhoods and downtowns. People who join Indiana Landmarks receive its bimonthly magazine, Indiana Preservation. For more information on the not-for-profit organization, call 317-639-4534, 800-450-4534, or visit www.indianalandmarks.org.
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