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Leora Brown School seeks to adopt historic black home

Maxine Brown found a calling when she purchased the all-black Leora Brown School and spearheaded the effort to restore the historic property. She’s answering that call once again.
Leonard Carter, an African-American Civil War veteran, built a small home at 545 Floyd Street in Corydon in 1891. The house was recently headed for demolition to make way for the House of New Beginnings, a halfway house for men recovering from drug and alcohol addition.
Brown voiced an interest in saving the old house.
‘The board of the House of New Beginnings did vote unanimously to gift the house to the school if I met certain conditions, which is moving it,’ Brown said.
Brown hopes to relocate the house to a plot adjacent to that of Leora Brown School. That property was also owned by an African-American Civil War veteran, Lloyd Johnson.
After consulting the Indiana Historical Society, Brown said she was told the house isn’t historically significant in itself, but she believes rehabilitation increases interests, and her focus is on preserving the history of Carter and others.
Carter joined the army when he was 18. He was wounded in battle at Petersburg, Va., Brown said.
Black troops captured front lines and artillery there on June 15, 1864 ‘ the day Congress provided that black troops receive the same uniforms, arms, rations, equipment and pay as whites, according to ‘The Indiana Historian.’
Black troops fought at the battle of the ‘crater’ in Petersburg 15 days later.
Carter returned to Southern Indiana in 1865, the year the Civil War ended, Brown said.
Carter bought two acres on Floyd Street and built the house in 1891. That same year, he was one of several persons who successfully petitioned the school to use African-American teachers instead of white instructors.
Carter is buried nearby in Corydon’s Cedar Hill Cemetery.
‘It’s a bigger issue than just saving a little house. A part of (the community’s) past will be destroyed if this house is not saved,’ Brown said.
Many African-Americans lived and died in Harrison County. An integrated history might make Corydon more historically significant, Brown said.
‘With African-American history, historic Corydon becomes a more compelling attraction. We’ve talked with Maxine Brown about ways to generate revenue so that the school and Carter home could operate as ongoing attractions with interpretation,’ said Jim Epperson, tourism director of the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The CVB wants to help Brown raise initial funds, set up an endowment, and devise a business plan for long-term viability, Epperson said.
‘I think to the extent possible we should have (the house) rehabilitated to the way it was built, furnished and interpreted,’ Brown said.
Brown envisions an historic site conducted similar to the Gov. Hendricks Headquarters. However, as a Leora Brown School property, the Carter home would not be in the Indiana State Museum system.
Grant funding is currently being sought for the project. Donations can be sent to Leora Brown School Inc., P. O. Box 441, Corydon.
Brown is also interested in donated services, particularly for relocating the home the short distance from Floyd Street to the school grounds.

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