The Black Heritage Trail of NH (BHTNH) has moved to a new location at 280 Marcy Street in the old South Meeting House in Portsmouth’s historic South End, effective April 1, 2018.
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The BHTNH is thrilled to be relocating to a historically significant location that is one of the stops along the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail. The old South Meeting House, also known as South Ward Hall or South Ward Meeting House, is located atop Meetinghouse Hill. It is bordered by Marcy Street, Manning Street, and Meeting House Hill Road.
The current South Ward Meeting House is the second building that has occupied this site. The meetinghouse was built on the site of a 1731 meeting house, which was razed in 1863. Portsmouth built the current South Meeting House in 1866. The first floor was originally used as a school and the second as ward room for public functions.
This Victorian election hall was the site of two major 19th-century institutions in the lives of Portsmouth’s black citizens. Starting on New Year’s Day in 1881, many annual celebrations of the Emancipation Proclamation were held here. The first was attended by “most of the colored people of the city” and over 100 invited white guests. The celebrations included speeches, a catered supper and music, and recurred for eighty years.
This building was also home to New Hampshire’s first black church. It began when a multi-denominational Bible-study class outgrew the capacity of James F. Slaughter’s living room, and moved here in 1890 as People’s Mission. In 1892, it reorganized as the People’s Baptist Church with Reverend James Randolph as its first pastor. It was an auxiliary of the Middle Street Baptist Church. Racially separate churches in this county allowed and provided not only a center for
social and political activities, but relief from the segregated seating and other limitations imposed by white religious institutions. They worshiped here until 1915.
JerriAnne Boggis, Executive Director of the BHTNH, is excited about the move to a location that not only reflects New Hampshire Black history, but will allow for a new, dedicated home for the organization and its staff.
The BHTNH will be sharing space in the building which currently is the home of Portsmouth Public Media Television (PPMTV). Boggis commented, “PPMTV has been very generous in offering us a place here until we find a permanent home to headquarter the BHTNH. We appreciate their support and cooperation as we transition from our alliance with Discover Portsmouth to our own dedicated home in the hopefully near future.”
For more information visit: http://blackheritagetrailnh.org
About the Black Heritage Trail of NH
The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire works to open hearts and minds for a deeper understanding of who we are as a collective and to recognize that we share a uniquely American heritage. Building on the success of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail that started more than two decades ago, the new statewide Black Heritage Trail connects the stories of New Hampshire’s African heritage by documenting and marking visible many of the historic sites that testify to this rich history.
Guided tours and public programs, along with educational materials and teacher workshops, will continue to be developed by the Black Heritage Trail to promote awareness of African-American culture and to honor all the people of African descent whose names may not have been included in previous town histories. The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire provides a variety of learning experiences for adults and children. Offerings include school programs, guided tours, traveling programs, lectures, and workshops.
The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire is an independent, nonprofit organization. The organization is a registered 501c 3 nonprofit; Taxpayer Identification Number 81-3921917.
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Contact: Anne Arnold, Media Liaison firstname.lastname@example.org