March 2, 2023

A new program will preserve one of Indiana’s first Black settlements

Lyles Station near Princeton is one of the last of dozens of free black settlements across Indiana. - Photo courtesy of Indiana Landmarks

Lyles Station near Princeton is one of the last of dozens of free black settlements across Indiana.

Photo courtesy of Indiana Landmarks

Indiana Landmarks' Black Heritage Preservation Program is working to preserve Indiana’s Black history one site at a time. 

“There’s value in our communities and we have to see that value,” said Eunice Trotter, director of the Black Heritage Preservation Program. 

The program awarded grants to numerous sites, including St. Rita Catholic Church in Indianapolis, Bethel AME Church in Richmond, and Lyles Station Historic Preservation Corp. in Princeton.

Lyles Station is documented as one of Indiana’s first Black settlements and currently is the only one that remains in the state. Currently, the property consists of an art museum housed inside of the former Lyles Consolidated School, an interactive classroom experience that gives visitors a glimpse at how school was back in the 1920s and several art galleries.

According to Stanley Madison, president of the Lyles Station Historic Preservation Corp., Lyles Station received a $15,000 grant from the Black Heritage Preservation Program. The organization plans to use the funding to add more lighting throughout their buildings, expand their parking lot and for marketing. Madison also said Lyles Station is looking to create an area for students to eat when they come for field trips. 

The Black Heritage Preservation Program was launched in September 2022 with a focus to expand the work of the organization’s African American Landmark committee by locating and saving historic African American sites around the state.  

The program offers grants from $500 to $40,000 to restore sites and between $250 to $10,000 for projects that document and bring attention to heritage that is no longer present with physical sites. 

It is important to preserve the heritage of African American culture in Indiana because it is a part of the state’s overall history, Trotter told the Recorder.   

Trotter said that along with saving Black historic sites, there is a need for writers to document this history. 

Indiana Landmarks held a free training course on Feb. 7 to train individuals on how to conduct research, uncover and document Black heritage through a variety of the program’s projects statewide.  

Those interested in applying for a Black Heritage Preservation grant can find more information here.

Contact Indianapolis Recorder staff writer Timoria Cunningham for more information at 317-762-7854. Follow her on Twitter @_timoriac.  

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