BERRYVILLE – The Josephine School Community Museum and the Clarke County African-American Cultural Center in Berryville received a grant of $ 17,885 for a critical roof repair that will help preserve the building and ultimately its contents.
The National Park Service recently disbursed $ 12.6 million for 51 preservation projects in 24 states. The projects are specifically related to the African-American struggle for equality.
The Josephine School Community Museum building, which is owned by Clarke County and leased to the museum, is the only site in Virginia to receive funding from African American civil rights grants, although four localities in Virginia have applied.
“When the school building was rehabilitated in 2002, there was not enough money in the budget to repair the V-crimped metal roof,” said architectural historian Maral Kalbian , who works for Clarke County.
Kalbian heard about the African American Civil Rights Grant program and prepared an application on behalf of the county.
“We needed bricks and mortar money,” Kalbian said. “These funds will allow the construction of a new pre-painted metal standing seam roof, which will be more appropriate for the building. “
The funds will also help repair and replace any rotten wood under the metal roof or in the soffits, as well as new gutters, chimney flashings and snow birds.
“All of this will keep water away from the building and preserve it for future generations,” Kalbian said.
She called the $ 17,885 grant “free money” because the county does not need to match.
The county will tender the project and award the contract to a company with experience in historic preservation, she said.
The Josephine School Community Museum and the Clarke County African American Cultural Center are located in the historic Josephine City district, which includes approximately 40 acres and 49 properties on the southeastern outskirts of the city.
Primarily, the neighborhood is Joséphine Street, which stretches from South Church Street in the east to its terminus in a cul-de-sac not far from Jack Enders Boulevard.
According to a National Register of Historic Places listing form that Kalbian prepared in 2015, most of the district is made up of single-family homes mostly built between 1880 and 1966 by African-American residents.
The district also includes a church, a parish hall, a community cemetery and three former school buildings, including the one that is now the museum.
Josephine City was established in 1870, when a group of African Americans jointly purchased approximately 31 acres of Edward McCormick’s estate.
Joséphine City was not annexed to the city of Berryville until 1989.
The Josephine City School – now the Josephine School Community Museum – was built in 1882.
The one-story, four-bay, vernacular-framed school with exterior stucco walls and a corrugated iron side gable roof was moved 100 feet south to its present location circa 1930. A wing of One-story side toilet was added in 1961..
The building – one of three education-related buildings on Josephine Street important to the African American community – ceased to be used for educational purposes in 1971.
Some improvements in Josephine City can be attributed to the incorporation of the county’s public schools in 1966.
For example, Josephine City received public water and sewers in the late 1960s. Other improvements included electric street lights and concrete sidewalks along the south side of the street.
The Josephine City School building was individually listed in the National Register in 1995. It was completely renovated in 2002 to function as a museum.
Clarke County has two other buildings near the old school turned museum. All three have a common alley on rue Joséphine.
Around 1930, the Clarke County Training School for African Americans was expanded in 1951 to become Johnson-Williams High School. It remained an all-black high school until 1966 before serving as a Johnson-Williams Middle School until it closed in 1987. (The college moved to Swan Avenue when a high school was built on Westwood Road).
In the mid-1990s, the old college building was renovated into apartments for low-income seniors.
The third county-owned structure is a 1941 agricultural school building that was affiliated with Johnson-Williams High School. According to County Administrator David Ash, the building is used for storage.
The Josephine School Community Museum is filled with historical timelines, exhibits, and memorabilia that tell the story of African Americans in Clarke County. A detailed diorama depicts Josephine City in the mid-1900s.
“Even though the school was built in the 19th century, it continued to be an important part of the African American community through the Civil Rights Era,” Kalbian said.
Congress allocated funding to the African-American Civil Rights Grant program in 2016 through the Historic Preservation Fund, which uses revenues from federal oil leases on the outer continental shelf to provide assistance to a wide range preservation projects without spending taxpayer dollars.
For this second year of the grant program, Congress increased funding from $ 8 million in 2016 to $ 13 million in 2017.
Learn more about 50 other African American civil rights preservation projects at nps.gov.
The Josephine School Community Museum and the African American Cultural Center in Clarke County are open from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays and by appointment. Contact the museum at 540-955-5512 or [email protected] Visit jschoolmuseum.org.
– Contact Cathy Kuehner at [email protected]