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Cultural Connections

Effort underway to document African-American historic sites

5/28/2014, 11:56 a.m.
The Rinehart building at North Mississippi Avenue and Skidmore Street provides space for the Avel Gordly Albina Early Head Start Center, one of the few remaining commercial buildings in Portland associated with the social and cultural fabric of the African American community.

An effort is underway to document historic places in Oregon associated with African Americans.

The Oregon Black Pioneers, in partnership with the State Historic Preservation Office, has announced a property survey project to protect and preserve Oregon's African American historic sites and places from the time period of 1844 to 1984.

The revelation of relatively unknown or hidden African American historic sites and places promises to add yet another dimension to Oregon's rich history.

An early settlement era, gothic revival style home, for example, belonged to black pioneers Hannah and Eliza Gorman, and is still standing in Corvallis. Hannah and her six years old daughter, Eliza came across the Oregon Trail in 1844 with the John Thorp family.

In La Grande there is the little-known church, Boyd Memorial Baptist Church, now known as Amazing Grace Fellowship. Constructed in 1920, Amazing Grace Fellowship represents one of the oldest African American Church in Oregon.

The general public is asked to contribute information that pertains to existing structures with any African American association in their histories and cemeteries with African American burials. These places can be buildings anywhere in Oregon where African Americans worked, sites where important events happened, or objects created, installed, or inspired by African Americans.

The ultimate goal is to create a multiple property document that identifies sites for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. If you know of any places like this, you are encouraged to share your information on the website makeoregonhistory.org. The information will be added to the collection of the Oregon Black Pioneers and the Oregon Historic Sites Database.

Provide as much information as you can, but it is okay to leave blanks if you do not know the particular information requested, officials said.

If you have any questions about the survey project, you may email Kimberly Moreland, Oregon Black Pioneers project manager at historic_places@qwestoffice.net or Kuri Gill, Oregon Heritage, Grants and Outreach Coordinator at Kuri.Gill@oregon.gov. For more information about the Oregon Black Pioneers, visit oregonblackpioneers.org.