Thursday, May 27, 2010

Endangered?

It's not up on the Washington Post Web site yet, but this morning's Arlington-Alexandria Extra section featured an article on the American Legion building.

The piece focused on preservation, and the news hook was the fact that the structure had been named "one of the most endangered historic buildings" in the Commonwealth by Preservation Virginia.

The reporting by Christy Goodman was straightforward and balanced, but it surprised the Growler to read the following quote from Black History Museum Director Louis Hicks:

There are not many standing African-American institutions left in the city. Not many, if any. African-American schools are demolished [nationwide] and not really considered worthy of saving. It is not a pretty building, but it does carry a legacy of educating African-American children."
Readers will recall that just one year ago at the Board of Architectural Review hearing, Mr. Hicks -- with rather endearing honesty -- professed knowing nothing about the Legion or the early, more appealing history of the building as a school until Mr. Cromley came along and ferreted out the history.

What puzzles the Growler now is Mr. Hicks' statement to the Washington Post reporter that "there are not many standing African-American institutions left in the city."

Mr. Hicks' own museum Web site outlines a self-guided walking tour of the City that includes the Robinson Library (adjacent to the Black History Museum), a number of landmark houses of worship such as Alfred Street Baptist church, People's Florist in our neighborhood (the first African-American florists in Alexandria), Dr. Albert Johnson's house, civil rights leader Samuel Tucker's house on Princess Street, Odd Fellows Hall, and more.