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Grant Refurbishes A Monument to African American History

Before desegregation, there were 22 one-room schools for African American children in Caroline County. One of them, the Old Port Royal School, stands as a modern monument to African American heritage and provides an essential tool for local history education.

Atlantic Union Bank gifted the school building to Historic Port Royal, Inc., a nonprofit organization responsible for preserving and sharing the history of Port Royal and Caroline County. Thanks to an $8,200 grant from the Duff McDuff Green, Jr. Fund of The Community Foundation, Historic Port Royal is now better able to preserve artifacts and welcome students and other visitors at the Old Port Royal School.

Grant support enabled Historic Port Royal to install a heating and air conditioning system in the building and to repair and paint the school building exterior.

These improvements allow Historic Port Royal to open the Old School during regular history museum hours and host special tours regardless of cold or hot weather. The exterior work has restored the building’s visual integrity and protected it structurally, as well. Staff report significant reduction in musty smells, dust accumulation, and seasonal mildew growth. Being able to open the school regularly has increased Historic Port Royal’s visitor rate, which in turn increases donations, gift shop sales, and overall member support.

“Most importantly, regularly opening the school gives us the opportunity to expand the presentation of Port Royal’s African American history,” said Historic Port Royal President Carolyn (Cookie) Davis.

“Since there are so few schools like Old Port Royal School still standing today, it is important to preserve and present this historic resource in the manner that its community (both past and present) would expect. These funds from The Community Foundation have allowed us to do so.”

Read more about Cleo Coleman's recent recognition for historic preservation in the Free Lance-Star.

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