Eastern Mennonite University students teamed up with the Northeast Neighborhood Association to begin renovations to the Dallard/Newman House on Saturday.
About a dozen people worked through snow flurries to strip carpet, paint walls and complete landscaping at the historic building at 192 Kelley St. The house once served as the residence of George A. Newman, a teacher and principal at the former Effinger School.
The school educated Harrisonburg-area black students from 1882 to 1938, until being replaced by a new school named for Lucy Simms, according to the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Simms, a former slave and an educator in the area for 56 years, was one of Newman’s students.
The Dallard/Newman House and Bethel AME Church on Kelley Street were added to the Virginia Landmarks Register in 2017. NENA hopes to purchase the building from owner Robin Lyttle and convert it into a museum, library and headquarters for the nonprofit association.
Precious Waddy, 20, and Devantae Dews, 22, were among nine members of EMU’s Black Student Union to don gloves and pick up brooms Saturday. The chance to make a difference inspired Waddy to help out, she said. “This is a great community outreach opportunity,” she said. “And it’s a way to bring culture to Harrisonburg.”
Dews called Saturday’s work a chance for the student union’s members to “become closer” as a group. Making a difference also drove 19-year-old Rebecca Yugga’s decision to assist with renovations.
“I just like the idea of volunteering and knowing that I’m doing something that will help people,” she said.
NENA President Karen Thomas hopes to have the house sufficiently renovated for a soft opening in the spring, but that will require the association to raise $70,000, she said. “We need about $30,000 to renovate,” Thomas said. “But we need about $40,000 to buy the property. The property owner has graciously entered into a sales contract with us.”
In addition to funds, NENA has received donations of in-kind services for the renovation, as well as photos from the late 19th and early 20th centuries for the future museum, Thomas said. NENA also has partnered with the local carpenters guild for the building renovations, and is applying for state and federal grants to help with the costs, Thomas added.
Donations can be made through The Community Foundation of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, she said.
This article is re-printed with permission from the Feb. 18, 2018, Daily News-Record.