Preserving memory of black pioneers in Oregon

The Oregon Black Pioneers collection and the State Historic Preservation Office’s Oregon Historic Sites Database are looking for pioneers.

The two organizations partnered for the recent launch of a property survey project that’s been dubbed, “Preserving Oregon’s African American Historic Places.”

According to OBP’s website, the purpose of the project is “to protect and preserve significant sites related to Oregon’s African history from the time period of 1844 to 1984.”

The historic Hannah Gorman house in Corvallis, Oregon. (Photo courtesy of Oregon Black Pioneers. http://blackpioneers.blogspot.com)

The historic Hannah and Eliza Gorman house in Corvallis, Oregon. (Photo courtesy of Oregon Black Pioneers. http://blackpioneers.blogspot.com)

The State Historic Preservation Office writes that it’s “collecting information about existing structures with any African-American association in their histories and cemeteries with African-American burials. These places can be buildings where African-Americans worked, sites where important events happened, or objects created, installed, or inspired by African-Americans.”

Oregon Black Pioneers says it’s ultimate goal is to nominate significant African-American historic sites to the National Register of Historic Places.

“The revelation of relatively unknown and/or hidden African-American historic sites and places promises to add yet another dimension to Oregon’s rich history,” the organization wrote.

Included on its website is an early settlement era, gothic revival-style home in Corvallis (641 NW Fourth St.) that belonged to Black pioneers Hannah Gorman and Eliza Gorman. Hannah and her 6-year-old daughter, Eliza, came across the Oregon Trail in 1844 with the John Thorp family.

Oregon Black Pioneers is asking for the public’s help to identify significant places. Questions should be directed to one of the following:

• Kimberly Moreland, Oregon Black Pioneers, project manager, historic_places@qwestoffice.net.

• Kuri Gill, Oregon Heritage, Grants and outreach coordinator, Kuri.Gill@oregon.gov.  

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