Category Archives: History

Friends of the G.A.R. Awarded Generous “Legacy” Grant

The Charles Sumner Post #25, Grand Army of the Republic on South Queen Street in Chestertown has been awarded a generous grant of $100,000 by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development through its Community Legacy program.

This grant, overseen by the Town of Chestertown and administered by Kent County Arts Council will provide funds to acquire the building from its owner, Preservation, Inc., and to begin the renovations to make this historic structure ready for building a program to support a vibrant center of performance, display, education and research that honors local African American culture and the country’s Civil War heritage.

This is an effort of KCAC in cooperation with leaders of the African American Community, Town of Chestertown, Kent County Department of Tourism and Economic Development, Main Street Historic Chestertown, Preservation Incorporated, Washington College students in SIFE, and many other interested citizens, from near and far.

With this grant, KCAC will acquire the GAR Building by the fall 2012, at which time the building’s phased renovation program will begin. As fund-raising efforts continue, the project will continue to move towards completion.

Fundraising is still on-going, in order to match funds to develop the Legacy grant and other grants they are seeking.

All donations, no matter the amount, are greatly appreciated. You can donate online, or download, print and mail the pledge form to the Kent County Arts Council.

Thank you for your support!

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Filed under Awards, Friends of G.A.R., grant, Historial Preservation, History, Museum

Friends of the G.A.R.: Your Support and Generosity is Greatly Appreciated

We want to thank everyone for joining us in our quest to illuminate and preserve the arts, history, culture and community of Kent County by becoming a Friend of the Grand Army of the Republic.

In March we invited everyone to lend their financial and moral support to purchase the Charles Sumner Post of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), also known as Army Hall or Centennial Hall. The building, located on South Queen St. in Chestertown, MD, is only one of 2 its kind left in the country. Under the direction of Kent County Arts Council, and with the help of Main Street Historic Chestertown and the Kent County Office of Tourism and Economic Development, we plan to continue restoring this historic structure.
The building would house an Art and History Gallery that shines a light onto the Nation’s Civil War and the story of African Americans’ involvement in it. The second floor would be an event space for concerts, youth programs, poetry readings, lecture series, film series, drama and more.

The support from the county has been tremendous. We are also buoyed by the recent significant progress in recognizing the monumental achievements of African Americans and their involvement with the Civil War on the Eastern Shore and beyond.

Starting Saturday, July 16, the African American Civil War Museum begins a 3-day celebration for their new home in Washington, DC. Events include a conference on the first day around the theme “From Civil War to Civil Rights — The Path to Racial Healing,” a film festival and the official ribbon-cutting at noon on Monday, July 18. The Washington Post has an informative article about the museum and upcoming events.

On June 19, 2011 in Easton, Maryland, an 8-foot tall bronze statue of Frederick Douglas was unveiled in front of the County Courthouse. The Chestertown Spy dramatically documented this long, awaited historic day. Local residents, state politicians, and historians witnessed this event and recounted the importance of publically documenting and preserving the extraordinary African Americans history of the Eastern Shore.

The New York Times “Disunion” blog recently documented the complicated connection Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas shared. They were born just a short distance from one another on the Eastern Shore. Their contributions to American History were monumental, and it is only just that they be equally honored and recognized for their fortitude.

The Kent County Arts Council is dedicated to illuminating the arts in the county. Additionally, being able to restore and support a historical landmark, that was once a meeting place for African American Civil War veterans and their families, is a testament to our goal of preserving and supporting the rich historical legacy of the Eastern Shore. We invite you to join us as we move forward in preserving and enhancing the amazing history of this region that we love so much.

Your donation, no matter how large or small, is greatly appreciated. You can mail in your contribution, or pledge online.  Each person who donates will have a connection to the great history and culture of the Eastern Shore.

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Filed under Friends of G.A.R., Historial Preservation, History, Museum

Friends of the G.A.R. – A Very Timely and Historic Project

How timely! Historian David W. Blight’s Memorial Day New York Times article highlights the history we are commemorating here in Chestertown, Maryland.

We feel fortunate to be in step with this enlightening historical commentary, just as the Kent County Arts Council community seeks to create a history and cultural heritage center in the building which was built and used by the members of Grand Army of the Republic, Charles Sumner Post # 25.  The structure is one of only two African American G.A.R. Halls left standing in the United States.

For more information on how you can become a Friend of the G.A. R. and help us with this historic project visit our site.

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Filed under Friends of G.A.R., Historial Preservation, History