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One of the most historic buildings in Hopewell's Black community is coming back to life

Posted at 2:53 PM, May 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-03 15:57:38-04

HOPEWELL, Va. -- The City of Hopewell is working to breathe new life into one of the most prominent buildings in the Black community.

Over the years Shiloh Lodge Number 33, near City Point, first served as home and later an African-American Masonic Lodge.

"Every significant leader in the African-American community in this whole area, whether it be doctors, lawyers, Congressmen, City Councilmen, anybody for that time period, from 1877 until 2019, they were members of this lodge," Hopewell Director of Economic Development & Tourism Charles Bennett said.

But after 140 years, membership dwindled and the building fell into disrepair.

In 2019, it was sold to the city in hopes it could be saved.

A $750,000 national park grant and $124,000 in matching city funds are now being used to do just that.

Shiloh Lodge Number 33

Good news for Gwendolyn Strawn Smith.

Smith lives across the street from the lodge and said renovating and preserving the building was important to both her neighborhood and the entire region.

"I think that part is going to be very noteworthy for all those people, including myself, Black Americans that appreciate something being restored that is the history," she said.

While the restoration comes first, expansion could be next.

"With additional funding, we could do another phase which would be to actually build an addition, not exactly but similar to that which was the original and the completed project would be our event center," Bennett said.

The city hopes to have the renovated building reopened in 2026.

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