The Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum, formerly known as the Black Heritage Festival / Museum of New Smyrna Beach, Inc., is one of a few of its kind in the State of Florida. It is housed in the 19th century restored old Sacred Heart / St. Rita building, built in 1899. The structure was once a place of worship for a congregation of Black Roman Catholics. The Centennial Celebration was held December 11, 1999, marking 100 years of the building's existence and the official opening of the Museum. A permanent exhibit, the Heritage House, also known as the "shotgun house," was later added and located just across the street from the museum, with period furniture and accessories.
The museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness and appreciation for African American culture and history. Emphasizing the contributions of its people, the museum preserves and displays a collection of photos, oral histories, memorabilia and artifacts to educate citizens about the history of race relations in small-town Florida over the course of the twentieth century. The photos and oral histories speak of the hardships and triumphs of this African American community from the early 1900s to the present. This musuem is the cornerstone of the historic West Side community in New Smyrna Beach, Florida and resides in the old Sacred Heart/St. Rita church building constructed in 1899. The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Admission is free, yet donations are appreciated.
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