Historical society fighting to repair 200-year-old piece of Tri-state history

Harveysburg Historical Society making push to repair first free school for black children

WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Nearly 200 years ago, the first free school for African American children in the Northwest Territory opened in what would become Warren County.

Now, nearly 200 years later, a decaying roof is jeopardizing the building that school called home. In the process, it’s threatening to cut a historical thread that’s run continuously since the school first opened its doors in 1831.

The Harveysburg Community Historical Society is justifiably concerned.

Lucy McCarren is the historical society’s treasurer.

“They built this building in 1831 to educate all of the non-white, which would have included Indian children if there had been any in the community,” McCarren told FOX19 NOW.

Jesse and Elizabeth McCarren opened the school in 1831, some 30 years before the emancipation proclamation.

"These children were being educated so that they could get better jobs and work their way to freedom,” McCarren explained. “I think everybody is entitled to an education, and I think it’s a wonderful thing that Elizabeth Harvey felt that way and decided that the black children needed to be educated, because education is the way to freedom.”

To save the building, the historical society started a GoFundMe page to raise funds for roof repair, window repair and other necessary maintenance.

The repair cost is estimated to be $17,000.

That’s a steep price tag to be sure, but necessary to meet certain standards owing to the structure’s status as a historical landmark.

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