Legacy Museum of African-American History

Historical Significance

The Legacy Project was established in 1993 under the auspices of the Lynchburg NAACP and two years later was incorporated as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. In 1997, Legacy bought a two-story Victorian house at 403 Monroe Street in Tinbridge Hill, a historically black neighborhood near downtown Lynchburg. The board of directors spent the next three years raising over $300,000 to turn the house into a museum. The Legacy Museum of African American History opened in June of 2000. Eight years later, the Legacy Activity Center opened at 415 Monroe Street to provide space and resources for programs for children and youth.

The Legacy Project began when a small group of Central Virginians, African American and white, realized that local civil rights history would be lost if efforts were not made to preserve it. As the Legacy Project took shape, this original goal expanded to the broader one expressed in the organization’s mission statement: (1) To develop appropriate mechanisms for the effective transmission of the story of struggle, suffering, sacrifice, and accomplishments carried forward by hundreds of African American men, women, and children in Lynchburg, Virginia, in particular and Central Virginia in general. (2) To locate, collect, store, and make available projects and accomplishments of African Americans significant to Lynchburg and its environs. (3) To foster educational programs which have as their essential aim the highlighting of African American excellence in the arts and sciences, humanities, and public policy in Central Virginia.

The Legacy Museum’s first exhibit was on African American health and medicine in Central Virginia.  Subsequent annual exhibits have dealt with education, religion, business, the rise and fall of Jim Crow, civic and social organizations, and the military; all have explored local African American history in its regional and national context. Celebrating Community!, a tenth-anniversary retrospective exhibition, opened in 2010. It honors Legacy’s volunteer collectors, whose success in involving community members to lend and donate artifacts has distinguished Legacy from the beginning. Approximately 1,750 artifacts make up the Museum’s permanent collection. Another 300 artifacts are on loan, some on exhibit, and some being held for future exhibits. In addition to exhibits, Legacy conducts programs on exhibit-related topics and undertakes collaborative projects with other local historical, cultural, and educational institutions.

From its inception, the Legacy Museum has modeled interracial effort and cooperation. Its predominantly African American board of directors has worked hard to provide nationally-recognized exhibits and programs that have advanced the Central Virginia community's understanding of its African American history and culture.   

Physical Description

Victorian structure centrally located in a predominantly African-American Lynchburg neighborhood (the historic Tinbridge neighborhood), adjacent to the historic Old City Cemetery.

Geographical and Contact Information

403 Monroe Street
Lynchburg, Virginia
Phone: 804-845-3455