National Mary Potter Club, Inc. receives African American Civil Rights Grant

The National Park Service (NPS) announced on April 6 that the National Mary Potter Club, Inc. application of an FY2019 African American Civil Rights for $500,000 had been awarded. The news of this award was major and wonderful news to years of fundraising for the restoration of the Mary Potter Academy/High School Shop Building.

The funds will be used to start the process of fully restoring the Mary Potter School Shop Building as a multi-purpose community center located at 202 East McClanahan Street in Oxford, NC. The preservation will preserve and protect the legacy of the school contribution to the African-Americans civil rights story and the building. The story will be told via pictures, recordings, literature and lectures for current and future residents of Granville County and tourist.

The Mary Potter School Shop building will consist of a historical exhibit wall, and other modern features. The public will have another venue for a theatre-style space for public forums, music and drama programs, meeting and classroom space, and other creative uses. As a building on the National Registry of Historic Places, its restoration will allow it to be an additional tourists attraction for the city and a center of learning, arts and fun for the community. Dr. George Clayton Shaw founded Mary Potter School in 1889 in Oxford, NC to meet the educational needs of the black community and was its first principal. Mary Potter School was a direct outgrowth of the Timothy Darling Presbyterian Church in Oxford.

The Mary Potter School Shop Building was built in 1926 on the Mary Potter School campus under the supervision of manual instructor Professor T.J. Hicks and the students of Mary Potter School. With the addition of Vocational Home Economics and Vocational Agriculture to the school curriculum this building was needed by Dr. George C. Shaw and staff. The building was constructed with its lower floor used for industrial arts courses and the top floor was devoted to home economics. The project will preserve the legacy of Mary Potter School, Dr. George C Shaw and other affluent African-Americans that have contributed to the growth and success of Granville County, the United States and the world. For some students the building was dearly known as the Industrial Arts Building or the Manual Training Building depending on the year you attended classes in the building.

The features of the property which are significant to its history, architectural elements and cultural values will be preserved. The building interior historical charm will be preserved such as; windows, exterior appearance, tongue and groove board ceiling and walls, and wood flooring. The National Park Service (NPS) announced $14 million in African American Civil Rights Historic Preservation Fund grants to fund 51 projects across 20 states and the District of Columbia that will preserve sites and history related to the African American struggle for equality in the 20th century.

“These grants will fund important projects that document, interpret, and preserve sites that tell the stories of the African American experience in the pursuit of civil rights,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela, exercising the authority of the Director. “Thanks to the coordination of public and private partners, these projects will help connect Americans to historic places that preserve American history.”

Congress appropriated funding for the African American Civil Rights Grants Program in 2019 through the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF). The HPF uses revenue from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf, providing assistance for a broad range of preservation projects without expending tax dollars. Grant-supported projects include surveys and documentation, interpretation and education, oral histories, architectural services, historic structure reports, planning, and physical preservation. The grant is” partially funded by the African American Civil Rights program of the Historic Preservation Fund, National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendation expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.”

For more information about the grants and the African America Civil Rights Grant Program, please visit Applications for $15.5 million in FY2020 funding will be available in the fall of 2020.

For more information on the National Mary Potter Club, Inc, NPS grant and restoration project please contact Rosalyn M. Green, Project Manager at 301-351-4850,