Submitted by Chris Sanchez, Executive Director, CI, Inc.
Democrat Senator John Edwards and Republican delegate Jason Ballard have introduced a $1,000,000 budget appropriation to the Senate and the House respectively to preserve and reopen the Edgar A. Long Building.
The Edgar A. Long Building is a two-and-a-half-story, brick structure built in 1927 on the 20th-century campus of the Christiansburg Industrial Institute. The Friends Freedmen’s Association of Philadelphia first sponsored education for emancipated slaves by financing construction of the Old Christiansburg Industrial Institute’s Hill School and Schaeffer Memorial Baptist Church in the 1880s.
The Friends Freedmen’s Association then turned to famed educator Booker T. Washington, who advised them on the purchase of Montgomery County farmland for a 20th-century campus for the agricultural and industrial instruction of African American students. The Edgar A. Long Building has statewide significance as the only pre-1950 building that stands on its original site at the campus, begun in the early 1900s as a regional center for secondary and higher education of African Americans.
“Our team has been working with both Senator Edwards’s and Delegate Ballard’s office, advocating for their support in introducing a budget appropriation to the General Assembly for the preservation and reopening of the Edgar A. Long Building,” said Chris Sanchez, CI, Inc.’s executive director.
“We’re very excited to see that a bipartisan budget appropriation has been submitted, and we’re confident elected representatives in state government will recognize that the meaningful reinvestment and preservation of Black history, stories, and sites of cultural significance in Southwest Virginia is a recommitment to racial and economic justice on this side of the great Commonwealth.” said Sanchez.
Since 2017, CI,Inc. has raised approximately $300,000 towards the historic preservation and rehabilitation project of the Long Building. In 2020, these funds were used to repair and restore the entire roof system on the historic structure.
In 2020-2021, CI, Inc. partnered with Hill Studio to acquire an updated Master Site Plan. This work included hosting a series of community stakeholder meetings and listening sessions designed to gather community feedback about the potential reuses of the Long Building and historic campus properties.
The Edgar A. Long Building will rehouse the ‘Christiansburg Institute Museum & Archives (CIMA), an immersive museum highlighting the 100-year story of Christiansburg Industrial Institute and that reinvestigates the experiences of African Americans in Southwest Virginia from Slavery to Civil Rights.
The building features a research center, a makerspace podcast studio, collaborative work units, leasable offices, a commercial-grade kitchen, and a large flexible community event space. The site plan includes an outdoor amphitheater, large open green spaces for events and recreational activities, memorial gardens, and an interpretive legacy trail.
CI, Inc., is a grassroots cultural heritage and historic preservation 501(c)3 nonprofit organization located in Montgomery County with a mission of education and intergenerational empowerment, and the responsible stewardship of African American history, stories, and culture in Southwest Virginia.
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