A $125,000 Legacy Grant for 2013 Allows Restoration to Continue on the
Charles Sumner Post #25, G.A.R. in Chestertown, Maryland
On January 1, 2013, as we celebrate the monumental 150th Anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln, we are also celebrating the continuing restoration of a building in Chestertown which owes its existence to this event a century and a half ago.
It was at that signing that the Blacks of our nation, whether free or escaped from bondage, began to join the Union forces as soldiers to fight for the Union and to abolish slavery.
After the war, soldiers in the USCT (United States Colored Troops) who fought so effectively and bravely returned to their communities and remained united in brotherhood with their fellow soldiers, black and white. An organization of these Veterans was formed called the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.)
The Chestertown Veterans of the USCT created the Charles Sumner Post # 25, G.A.R. in 1867. By 1907 they had built their Hall which served as headquarters for their Post, and for the Women’s Relief Corp, an auxiliary group which helped the Veterans, as well as their widows and orphans. As time went by, this place was used by other groups and became a center in the black community of Chestertown for various meetings, receptions, and performances. More decades went by and the neighborhoods changed. By the 1990’s the Charles Sumner Post was abandoned, and almost torn down.
History, Arts, Humanitarian and Civil Rights activists were able to save the building just before its complete ruin, and began its restoration in 2001. In 2011, Kent County Arts Council and its partner organization, GAR Post #25, Inc. have continued working on the creation of a community center which will house space for displays and performances commemorating the African American experience.
The Town of Chestertown and the Kent County Arts Council are proud to announce that the Charles Sumner Post # 25, Grand Army of the Republic has received a Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) FY 2013 Community Legacy Program Award of $125,000.
In this 2002 photo is a group of citizens who helped save the structure on Queen Street in Chestertown. Presenting the proceeds from a fund-raising concert produced by S. & B. Productions are Sylvia and Bill Frazier to Joan Walker Hunter, history and arts activist and member of Preservation, Inc., the group which was instrumental in restoring the building.
Among the group pictured: Don and Anne McColl, Leslie Prince Raimond, Mr. and Mrs. Rhinelander, Bill Frazier, Rev. Cordell Hunter, Freddy and Ted Widmer, Sylvia Frazier, Joan Walker Hunter, Kees de Mooy, Adam Goodheart, Tom Mack and Debbie Toll.
Pictured above is the building as it stands today.