N&O Article re Latta House, Oberlin Village, Raleigh (6/27/98)
Stephen G. Sizemore on 06/29/1998 at 10:54 AM
Remnant of Raleigh's past to benefit
from today's music
RALEIGH -- This weekend, a historical preservation group will give people a
chance to help rebuild a piece of Raleigh's
history that many may have forgotten. The Latta House Foundation will sponsor a benefit concert from noon to 6 p.m. today at the Latta House at 1001 Parker St. Proceeds from the concert will be used to restore the house.
Bill Shepherd, founder of the Latta House Foundation, said he hopes the event helps to raise awareness about the home, which is part of historic Oberlin Village, one of Raleigh's first successful, free African-America communities.
"Through this fund-raiser, we want to restore the Latta House and establish it as an ongoing community cultural center," Shepherd said. "The community has expressed an interest in trying to save the house."
| Staff Photo By Nerissa Miller|
From Latta University -- which the Rev. M.L. Latta, a former slave, founded after he attended Shaw University -- only the Latta House remains. The Latta House Foundation aims to restore the aging structure with money from a fund-raising concert today.
The house was named after the Rev. M.L. Latta, who was born a slave. After the Civil War, he vowed to get an education and graduated from Shaw University. Latta wanted to educate less-fortunate children and orphans in Raleigh's African-American community, so he established Latta University on his farm, adjacent to Oberlin Village.
Only the Latta House, a two-acre piece of property, remains from the university that Latta began.
Shepherd said the building should seem like a museum to visitors. "We want people to come to the event and have a sense of discovery," Shepherd said.
In addition to restoring the house with money from the fund-raiser, Shepherd hopes to create a historical archive about Latta University and the house.
"We would like to learn more about the history of Latta University from some of the old residents here in Raleigh, and, hopefully, we can find some of the possible descendants of Latta University," he said.
Although the house itself is in bad shape, Shepherd is hoping the fund-raiser will bring in the money the foundation needs to renovate the dilapidated building.
"Some of the beams have rotted out, and the floor is worn out," he said. "We hope to raise $800,000 to redo the house entirely."
A $10 donation buys admission to the concert and a vegetarian or catfish lunch provided by Wellspring Grocery. Children younger than 12 get in free. The concert will feature the reggae band The Amateurs, the Latin jazz group Carnavalito and puppeteers the Grey Seal Puppets for children who attend. Nina Repeta, an actress on television's "Dawson's Creek," also will be on hand.
"This will be the first of one of the many fund-raisers that we are going to have, so we hope people come out to support it," Shepherd said.
For more information about the Latta House or donations to the foundation, call 821-4061.