GALLIPOLIS — This is the reopening weekend for the John Gee Black Historical Center.
As previously reported, the Gee Center, located at 48 Pine Street in Gallipolis, will now be open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Other hours are offered by appointment. Admission is free.
The mission statement of the center is, “A cultural and educational center to insure the preservation of tradition, culture, crafts, music and art of the African Americans in Southeastern Ohio and to educate our diverse people about African-American traditions and about the past and present contributions of African-Americans to this country.”
John Gee was a skilled carpenter who built houses in Gallipolis and donated the land at 48 Pine Street for the first church edifice. According to the Gee Center, during these times, Black Americans were usually buried in church cemeteries. But Gee donated four acres of land at the end of Pine Street as a burial ground for the local Black citizens.
According to information provided by the Gee Center, for 180 years, services were held at the John Gee Chapel. But in August 1997, the last church services were held. The member/trustees (Dorothy and Robert Casey, Edna Casey and Alice Bufford) decided to donate the building to the Black community to be used as a Black historical center. Their desire was to create a living representation of the culture, heritage and contributions of Black Americans living in Southeastern Ohio.
In June 1998, the member/trustees of the chapel called an organizational meeting of people who had expressed an interest in preserving the chapel. They called the new organization the John Gee Black Historical Center, Inc., a non-profit Center, with the following purposes:
– To establish a cultural and educational center to ensure the preservation of tradition, culture, crafts, music and art of the Black Americans in Southeastern Ohio.
-To educate our diverse people about Black Traditions and about the past and present contributions of Black Americans to this country with emphasis on Southeastern Ohio.
– To sponsor programs and displays, such as lectures, crafts, storytelling, artifacts and other items of interest.
The facility receives no grants or money from local government, and is solely dependent on donations from the community and memberships. Memberships are $20 for individuals; $35 for families (household); $50 for churches/non-profit organizations; $100 corporations/businesses. The center is a registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization.
Beth Sergent contributed to this article.
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