We wandered over to Richmond today to visit the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site. I was completely blown away by what this woman accomplished, especially in light of womens place in American society WHEN she lived. (After all, she was in her 50’s when women were finally granted the right to vote in 1920) Even more so because she was a black woman born in 1864 to a woman who had been enslaved. Maggie Walker founded the St. Luke Penny Savers Bank in 1903, becoming the first woman in America to charter a bank. She wanted depositers to be able to “take the nickles and turn them into dollars”.
Her home was in Jackson Ward, the center of Richmond’s African-American business & social life. Owned by the Walker family until they sold it to the National Park Service, over ninety percent if the furnishings & fixtures are original to the time that Mrs.Walker lived there (1904-1934).
The entire Jackson Ward, considered “the Harlem of the South”, is a National Historic Landmark District! After touring Maggie Walkers home we took the walking tour of Jackson Wards top 12 historic sights!
All the top black performers of the day played at The Hippodrome. It was part of the “Chitlen Circuit”, places safe for African-American performers & audiences during the era of racial segregation in the states.
The architecture of the buildings tell the story of an affluent vibrant community. Murals have been painted on the exteriors to celebrate the musicians who lived and performed there.
Fascinating history. Amazing way to spend the afternoon, but I’m left wondering why this incredible era faded away? What storms struck that could tear asunder such an amazing community?