::Pope House May Become African American Center
From Raleigh Chronicle Staff And Wire Reports
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
RALEIGH - The Raleigh City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed location for an African-American cultural center on Tuesday, May 1st at 7pm in the council chamber at the Avery Upchurch Government Complex at 222 West Hargett Street in downtown.
The city says that citizens will be given an opportunity to comment on the proposed site and on a plan to move the historic M.T. Pope House to the proposed location if it is approved.
The African-American cultural center will be directed by a consortium of three local groups including the Pope House, the Martin Luther King Resource Center, and the African American Cultural Complex.
The city says that the center would be intended to be a major destination for cultural tourism in North Carolina, offering visitors and residents a cultural and educational experience through programs offered the three member groups.
According to statements from the city of Raleigh, the current proposed location for the consortium is the southwest corner of the block bounded by South Wilmington Street, East South Street, Fayetteville Street and East Lenoir Street in the convention and hotel district. The site is just north of Shaw University.
If the site is approved, the Pope House which is currently located at 511 S. Wilmington St. would be moved about half a block north to the proposed cultural center location.
The city says that the Pope House is the last surviving structure from a middle and professional class African-American neighborhood that used to be in the area and is a rare example of a front-gable structure and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The home was built by Dr. M.T. Pope, a Shaw University graduate who was also the first African-American to be licensed as a physician in the state of North Carolina.
Also, according to the National Park Service, in 1919, Dr. Pope capped his public career with a run for public office in Raleigh.
"Driven by rising assaults on the rights of African Americans, Pope and two others made formal bids for the City Council," says the Park Service from a website on the structure. "Though defeated at the polls, the ticket dramatically brought out the black vote. Pope's family was equally infused with a sense of service."
Despite the possible move, the City's Historic Districts Commission has recommended leaving the home on its present site, as much of its historic value derives from the location and the Pope House Museum Foundation has plans to open the house to the public as a museum.
The Pope House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is an Official Project of the Save America's Treasures Program. ::