Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 5:15 PM EDT
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - In Harrisonburg major renovations to the historic Dallard-Newman House began on Monday. The historic home was built by freed slaves Ambrose and Reuben Dallard in 1885 and is one of the few historic African American homes left in the city.
The Northeast Neighborhood Association has raised over $100,000 in the last five years to convert the house into a museum highlighting African American history in the neighborhood and city.
“That money will go into renovating the inside and helping with exhibits and things so we can put artifacts and papers and things like that in it. To make it one of the best state-of-the-art museums in the valley,” said Karen Thomas, President, and Founder of the Northeast Neighborhood Association.
In addition to added artifacts and artworks, the renovations inside the house will include redoing the flooring, installing heating and cooling, and adding a downstairs bathroom.
There will also be major work done on the foundation of the house.
“They’re having to lift the house because it was just on the ground. So we have to stabilize the foundation and they’re going to have to lift it 8 to 10 inches off the ground to make sure the foundation is stable. Then they’re going to put rubble stone back around it that is being donated by Fraizer Quarry,” said Thomas.
Harrisonburg and Rockingham County Delegate Tony Wilt helped secure $250,000 from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources that will be used to restore the foundation.
“It goes to a greater cause it really does, what the vision is and what it will eventually look like and what it’ll mean to the community from an education standpoint and from a healing standpoint really, not just for this building for the community when one goes back and looks at the history and what that means. It’s very important that this happened and I’m honored to be a part of it,” said Wilt.
Wilt said that the museum will provide a great educational resource for people around the valley and he hopes it will also become a tourist attraction.
“This is kind of the first on the map of its kind in the immediate area. So it’s going to be quite the opportunity for folks that visit our valley. We’re hoping it will be highlighted and people will make this a stop on their journey through the valley,” he said.
Karen Thomas said she is looking forward to being able to let visitors into the museum, she says people who visited the house before could not enter because of its foundation.
“We’re hoping that people from all over will come and visit, will learn the history of this community, and just learn more about it. What this Newtown area did and the people that made it,” she said.
Thomas said there isn’t a set timeline for the renovations to be complete but the hope is to open the museum in late 2023.
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