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L.E. Coleman African-American Museum full of history

The former all African-American Mountain Road No. 1 school located at 3011 Mountain Road closed in the early 70s and stood vacant for several years before becoming the L.E. Coleman African-American Museum in 2005.

Walking through the doors of the old school gives a warm welcome feeling much like coming home. The walls contain years of history; some materials are out in the open, while other aged documents are protected by glass cases.

A grand opening was held on Oct. 15, 2005 for the museum whose purpose is to study, collect and preserve the history of Halifax and African-Americans.

Garnett Luck currently serves as president of the museum.

“Our goal is to seek and obtain pictures and documents for future African-Americans, to establish the museum for the community and the public to get involved. It’s not just about black history but the history of Halifax,” said Margie McHose, member of the L.E. Coleman African American Museum.

The museum is named after Lee Ernest Coleman, a former minister in Halifax and a principal at the Mountain Road No. 1 school.  Lee’s wife, Annie, also worked at the school.

The museum contains several books, an old stove, dishes, washboard, pictures, including photographs of former African-American teachers from Halifax and those of African-American soldiers serving in World War II and Vietnam.

Also inside the museum is a quilting room, an old chest and artwork from world-renowned sculptor Donald Brown.

The museum, however, is only open by appointment at this time due to lack of funds needed to finish the siding and purchase a better heating and cooling system.

“We’re currently seeking funding to finish the siding and to get a better heating and cooling system so we can be open to the public and to the community,” said McHose.

McHose and members of the museum believe people in Halifax need to be aware of their history.

McHose has developed a passion for the museum, not only because she considers herself a history buff  — partly by coming to South Boston from Woodbridge on a search spun from a 98-year-old postcard -- but also because she feels so strongly about the history contained within the walls of the L. E. Coleman Museum.

“Like Martin Luther King Jr. who had a dream, I have a dream for the museum, and I will not let it get closed,” said McHose.

The members of the L.E. Coleman African-American Museum have a goal and mission to make the public and community aware of the history and possibly wish to one day add the museum to the Civil Rights Heritage Trail.

The museum welcomes any old letters, stories or pieces of history that citizens feel should be placed in the museum.

The museum has several events planned for Black History Month this February.

Events begin with a film festival on Feb. 4 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., African American storytelling on Feb. 11 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., past, present and future African American quilting experience on Feb. 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Feb 25 a program on “So you want to go to college?” from 11 a.m. to noon.

For more information on any of these planned activities, call 434-476-6954.

Throughout the year the museum also holds its Star Spangled Banner Contest and fundraising events such as fish fries, yard sales and stews.

“Our main goal is to get the museum opened and operating on Saturdays for the public,” said McHose.

For more information on the museum or to make a contribution, call Margie McHose at 434-476-6784 or Arlene Dailey at 434-572-1010.