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Dallas Freedmen’s Town Receives Preservation Grant 7

The Tenth Street Historic District in Dallas has received a $75,000 grant to help the neighborhood’s conservation efforts. 

The National Trust for Historic Preservation today announced more than $1.6 million in funding for 27 Black historic sites across the United States. 

Tenth Street will receive funds to help it residential association hire a full-time staffer. 

“This would be their first paid staff position to help them advocate on behalf of the Tenth Street Historic District and to develop a strategic plan that will guide the future of the organization,” said Brent Leggs, executive director of the Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. 

The residential association still has money left to raise. It originally requested a $150,000 grant, and Leggs estimates they’ll need about $152,000 to hire their full-time staffer. 

Tenth Street — comprised of modest homes built between the 1890s and the 1940s — is one the last remaining Freedmen’s Towns in the country that is still an active neighborhood.

Last year, the Trust placed Tenth Street on their list of the most endangered places in the country. 

“Because of the immense amount of demolition that was erasing and destroying the social fabric and the remarkable history that’s embodied in these simple vernacular, modest historic buildings,” Leggs said. 

Last August, the Dallas City Council voted to stop city-funded demolitions in the neighborhood, after nearly a decade of permitting the razing of neglected structures. 

“Decision makers need to look past the simplicity of these buildings and fully understand that freedom colonies speak to an exceptional moment in American history,” Leggs said. “For Dallas to have remnants that still stand, it is imperative that the community stands up on behalf of this history and that decision makers use all of the tools available to preserve what’s left.”

Contrary to popular belief, preservation isn’t just a moral imperative, Leggs said. It doesn’t have to preclude the economic prosperity of its current residents. 

“Preservation is economic development,” he said. “It is the revitalization of historic neighborhoods and districts. That can only happen with community input.” 

The Trust is also awarding Minneapolis a special grant to help preserve the history being made in the city after the killing of George Floyd. 

“Given all of the contemporary memorials that were created to honor George Floyd, we wanted to link the past and present to fully understand the Black experience in Minneapolis,” Leggs said. 

Leggs said online donation to the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund have grown since Floyd’s death. Typically, the public might make a gift of $50 or $100, and that has increased to anywhere from $500 to $3,000.

Since its founding in 2017, the fund has invested $4.3 million in preservation projects.