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Frostburg State University Students Working to Remember Brownsville With Monument
04/03/2017

Frostburg State University Students Working to Remember Brownsville With Monument
In this historical photo, residents of Brownsville stand outside the John Wesley A.M.E. Church, built in 1885, which stood at the corner of Oak and Maple streets on what is now the campus of Frostburg State University.

Frostburg State University students and recent graduates are in the midst of a fundraising campaign to honor the historic Brownsville community on FSU’s campus.

FSU history students hope to raise enough money to install a monument on the Upper Quad of campus, where a neighborhood of African-American families once thrived. From 1927 through the 1950s, the state purchased property and homes in Brownsville to expand State Normal School No. 2, FSU’s original name.

“This is a big step for making this project a reality,” said Madison Wilson of Cumberland, who graduated in December.

Renderings of the 7-foot-tall granite monument include a headpiece designed by Wilson that depicts Brownsville on the left and FSU on the right to bring together the past and present. A panel will include a list of donors and a map of historic Brownsville. The project is estimated to cost $10,000. The exact location is pending, but students hope it will be installed in the heart of what was Brownsville between Allen and Simpson halls.

The students’ proposed monument is a way to remember the community named for Tamar Brown, who was believed to have been freed from slavery before the Civil War. Brown purchased a lot that served as a site of the one-room schoolhouse for black children, Lincoln School. Brownsville stretched from Center Street west to Beall Street (now University Drive) and from Old Main to where Compton Science Center stands today. Brownsville was home to about 240 residents in 1920.

The property acquisitions created tensions in the community as the state paid as little as $10 for each home, before the state’s eminent domain law that would require fair market value to be paid, according to the book “Black in Brownsville,” authored by Lynn Bowman, associate professor of English and speech at Allegany College of Maryland.

The fundraising campaign is a continuation of a research project from the 2014-2015 academic year. Students in that year in the HIST 433 Public History course who researched how to memorialize Brownsville included Wilson, Caity Felix of Germantown; Adam Kriner of Clear Spring, Amanda Huddleston of Adamstown, Bobby Weatherly of Saint Leonard, Eric Dodson of Owings and Steven Fernandez of Westminster. All are now graduates. Dr. Eleanor McConnell, assistant professor of history, served as faculty mentor.

“As Frostburg students, as Frostburg residents, it’s our own local history,” Felix said during an initial presentation about the project. “Without Brownsville, Frostburg State University's campus may not be the way it is today. The Brownsville people who lived in the neighborhood helped a lot in the beginning stages of the campus and its community.”

Wilson took charge on behalf of Phi Alpha Theta and the History Club, after several students from the initial group graduated. She was advised by Dr. Amy Branam-Armiento for this independent study project that includes creating a Wikipedia page about Brownsville and documenting her research for the Lewis J. Ort Library Special Collections. The Wikipedia page is pending approval by Wikipedia editors.

Alpha Sigma Alpha, Phi Alpha Theta and the History Club all have goals of raising a combined $2,000 for the monument, Wilson said. The goal is for all funds to be raised during the spring for a dedication in the fall semester, she said.

Gifts are encouraged to be made directly through the FSU Foundation to avoid additional fees being deducted from donations made through a GoFundMe campaign. Visit www.frostburg.edu/foundation/ways-to-give, click Make a Gift and designate the gift for the Brownsville Memorial. The GoFundMe contributions will still go directly to the FSU Foundation. Both forms of donations are tax-deductible.

For more information about the project, contact Branam-Armiento at abranam@frostburg.edu.

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For further information on this release, contact:

Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
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Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-3171
Fax: 301-687-7589
E-mail: news@frostburg.edu