Moneta church to preserve historic African American schoolhouse

Local News

MONETA, Va. (WFXR News) – A former African American school building is being preserved in Moneta.

The local piece of black history has been many things since it was moved to its current location in the 1920s, but recently it’s sat empty.

Now, EastLake Community Church is expanding and wants to use the building as a chapel on its new campus. Church members want to put it next to another piece of history from the 1800s.

The senior pastor of the church, Troy Keaton says it’s an important piece of history and they hope that by returning it to its former glory they can keep it around for generations to come.

“I realized this building was sitting here and just had an epiphany like, ‘we need to capture that building before it starts decaying further,” said Pastor Keaton.

“It became Promiseland school. Which was a school for African American children, in a day when they didn’t receive a lot of education. And it was that up until desegregation.”

After the school closed, the building was repurposed in the 90s. Cory Berger says the former owner let him use it as a pool hall.

“I ran the pool hall for maybe two years. And after that it just kind of sat,” Berger said.

Berger has been in the area for about 30 years and knows the community has many ties to the building.

“To everybody else who drives through there, they’re just like, ‘what’s that old building? That’s just an old building. It’s tin, it looks like it about to, the doors are all pushed in and there’s weeds all around.’ But if you knew the history of it, you’d say, ‘man I see why they’re restoring it,” Berger said.

Pastor Keaton says they plan on moving the building to its new location some time in mid-March.

“One of our church’s goals is to really be involved and to really strengthen the community. And this is a treasured piece of our community. And our goal is to save it, restore it, and make it useful for generations to come.”

They want to move it next to an antique cemetery they found on their property which has been there since the 1800s.

“Known as the Wesley Peter’s cemetery that was overgrown. We uncovered it and have been maintaining it, and we’ve decided to open the cemetery for future burials,” said Pastor Keaton.

He says they are researching the history of the schoolhouse and the cemetery. If anyone knows anything about either they can email the church at eastlakeoffice@yahoo.com.

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