John Gee Black Historical Center
The John Gee Black Historical Center is located in a former A.M.E. Church at the corner of Second Avenue and Pine Street in Gallipolis (48 Pine Street Gallipolis, Ohio 45631). It has been turned into a museum of African-American culture. It is open the first and third week of the month from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and by appointment for groups. Other programs are offered throughout the year.
The John Gee African Methodist Episcopal Chapel was organized in 1818 by Barbara and John Gee; William and Eliza Napper; Leah Stewart; Nancy Belt; John Givens and Lorian Givens. For some years, this congregation met in a schoolhouse on Pine Street in Gallipolis. The first church structure was a modest house-like building that served them until 1866. At that time, a more ambitious structure was planned for a growing congregation.
John Gee, a skilled carpenter who built houses in Gallipolis, donated the land at 48 Pine Street for the first church edifice. During these times, Black Americans were usually buried in church cemeteries. But John Gee donated 4 acres of land at the end of Pine Street as a burial ground for the local black citizens.
Samuel Humphrey donated the lumber and a team of horses to move the materials. Henry and Thomas Bell furnished the materials and did the plastering. The masonry work was done by Alexander Woody, John Black, George Toney and Jesse Devine who were not members of the church.
In the fall of 1868, the African Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated. Sometime in the 1880’s, the chapel was named for John Gee, it’s first great benefactor and one of the principal founders.
CREATION OF THE JOHN GEE BLACK HISTORICAL CENTER, INC.:
For 180 years, services were held at the John Gee Chapel. But in August 1997, the last church services were held. The member/trustees (Dorothy and Robert Casey, Edna Casey and Alice Bufford) decided to donate the building to the black community to be used as a black historical center. Their desire was to create a living representation of the culture, heritage and contributions of Black Americans living in Southeastern Ohio.
In June 1998, the member/trustees of the Chapel called an organizational meeting of people who had expressed an interest in preserving the Chapel. They called the new organization the John Gee Black Historical Center, Inc., a non-profit Center, with the following purposes:
1. To establish a cultural and educational center to ensure the preservation of tradition, culture, crafts, music and art of the Black Americans in Southeastern Ohio.
2. To educate our diverse people about Black Traditions and about the past and present contributions of Black Americans to this country with emphasis on Southeastern Ohio.
3. To sponsor programs and displays, such as lectures, crafts, storytelling, artifacts and other items of interest.
All officers and workers at the center are volunteers. Volunteers are needed at the Center. The guidelines for volunteers are:
1. Must be a member of the Center.
2. Volunteer hours are submitted at the first of each month.
3. A week’s notice is required if unable to fulfill your schedule.
4. Must sign in and out for record keeping.
5. Be willing to do appointed tasks.
6. Leave everything neat.
The Center offers for viewing:
• Museum pieces
• Underground railroad history
• Information regarding the Emancipation Celebration, of which Gallia County has observed continuously since 1863.
• For more information please call:
o John Gee Historical Center 740-446-2698
o Bobette Braxton 740-441-0999
o Gallia County Historical & Genealogical Society 740-446-7200
The following memberships offered:
• Individual $20.00
• Family $35.00
• Churches/Non-Profit Organizations $50.00
• Corporations & Businesses $100.00
• Checks for memberships or other monetary donations are payable to the John Gee Black Historical Center, Inc. and sent to Bobette Braxton, Treasurer, 108 Pine Street, Gallipolis, Ohio 45631
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC:
The center is open to the public the 1st and 3rd week of each month from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.