Students playing outside of the Havre de Grace Colored School. Photo from the Havre de Grace Colored School.

Heritage Fund Highlight: Havre de Grace Colored School Foundation Oral History Project

01/21/2020
By Jessica Feldt

The Havre de Grace Colored School Foundation is stewarding the structure and stories of the Havre de Grace Colored School and working to create new museum and cultural center. The Heritage Fund supported the organization’s efforts to gather important first-hand oral histories of African American students of the school from the 1930s to the 1950s.

Elementary school students at the Havre de Grace Colored School. Photos from the Havre de Grace Colored School Foundation.

Elementary school students at the Havre de Grace Colored School. Photos from the Havre de Grace Colored School Foundation.

The Havre de Grace Colored School was the first public high school for African Americans in Harford County. When the school was first built as a simple frame structure in 1910 it was for elementary students and was later expanded with a brick addition for high school students in 1930. In 1953, both Havre de Grace Colored Schools were moved to 201 Oakington Road and were combined and renamed the Havre de Grace Consolidated School. The 1964-65 school year would mark the final graduating class of the Havre de Grade Consolidated School when Harford County Public Schools System was integrated.

The Havre de Grace Colored School Foundation (CSF) was established to raise awareness of the history of the original school building and to raise the funds to purchase the site when it went up for sale in 2016. In 2018, the CSF was successful in its efforts to purchase the building and received funding from the Maryland Historical Trust’s African American Heritage Preservation Program to address the immediate needs of the building. In addition to the fundraising work, the CSF has collected hundreds of archival materials relates to the schools more than 100-year history and is planning to reopen the site into a museum and cultural center. They also sought to collect and share oral histories from former students.

A grant from the Preservation Maryland and Maryland Historical Trust, Heritage Fund program supported efforts to capture the stories of six women who attended Havre de Grace Colored School from the 1930s to the 1950s. Segments of the oral histories recorded are now available as a 13-minute video online.

As the Foundation’s website states, “More than just brick and mortar, the 109-year-old historic school building symbolizes the lives and legacies of those ancestors who fiercely advocated for better educational opportunities for African American students. The building tells a story of their determination and perseverance.”

Learn more about the Havre de Grace Colored School Foundation

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Jessica Feldt · Preservation Initiatives Manager

Jessica Feldt manages our proactive preservation and grant-giving programs and is here to help you move your project on the path towards preservation.

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