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Historical society fundraising to highlight Ohio’s first-ever school for Black children

Josh Bazan, WCPO |

Harveysburg, Ohio, has a hidden treasure: The state’s first-ever school for free Black children, built by white abolitionist Elizabeth Harvey in 1831 and maintained by the Harveysburg Community Historical Society for almost 200 years.

“People are amazed that this little village has housed this, didn’t know that it existed,” said historical society treasurer Lucy McCarren on Thursday.

McCarren doesn’t want it hidden anymore. She and other members of the historical society hope to build a new educational cultural center nearby to showcase the schoolhouse’s history, display artifacts used by its original students and provide a more comfortable experience for visitors. (The original building was constructed to meet 1831 standards of comfort, which means no running water or bathrooms.)

They need help to make it happen. The historical society has set up a GoFundMe to raise $161,000 and match an Ohio Facilities Grant that would enable them to build the education center.

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