A Danville house built nearly 110 years ago and full of African American history has a new life.
On Friday, the restored structure at 407 Holbrook Street was dedicated as the Williams Community Resource Center.
The house was constructed by an African American brick mason and craftsman. It was also the home of a prominent African American family active in the local civil rights movement.
Jerry Williams Jr. is a local attorney who spoke on behalf of the Williams family. Williams’ grandfather, Robert Allen, built the house in 1910.
In 2011, the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority bought the property at an auction. The house was restored through an African American civil rights grant provided by the National Park Service.
The restoration converted the vacant single-family dwelling into a mixed-use structure with two dwelling units on the upper level and a conference room, two offices, and an exhibit hall on the lower level. The exhibit hall will be used to display items of significance to the Williams family and the local civil rights movement.
The Danville chapter of the NAACP will occupy the lower level office.
Jerry William Jr.’s father, Jerry Lee Williams Sr., served as an attorney for the local chapter of the NAACP. The historical roots of the neighborhood and the role the Williams family played a large part in the civil rights movement.
The Holbrook-Ross Historic District was the first African-American professional neighborhood in Danville. Many of the homes were listed in the Green Book, which was a guide that listed safe places for African American travelers during racial segregation.
According to a press release, the center was created to serve as “a location open to the public where the past, present, and future of African American civil rights can be displayed, discussed and advanced.”