Orange Mound receives federal recognition for its African-American heritage

Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today announced that First Lady Michelle Obama designated Orange Mound, the nation’s first subdivision designed specifically for African Americans, as a Preserve America Community. The Preserve America Community program recognizes a select group of communities that use their heritage resources in sustainable ways and share the myriad benefits of historic preservation with residents and visitors.

“I am pleased First Lady Michelle Obama designated Orange Mound as a Preserve America Community,” said Congressman Cohen. “I was proud to write a letter of support to the Office of Preservation Initiatives for Orange Mound’s application. The Orange Mound community will benefit greatly from this designation as its leaders and residents work to protect and celebrate their heritage while building a future that will keep the community strong and vibrant for generations to come.”

Congressman Cohen’s letter of support for Orange Mound’s application can be found here.

The Orange Mound neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee, derives its name from the Osage Orange shrubs found on the grounds of the Deadrick Plantation, on which the neighborhood was originally platted. Orange Mound was founded in 1890, when developer Elzey Eugene Meacham purchased the land from the Deadrick family and sold lots in it to African American families, despite opposition. The population of the community remained primarily African American throughout the 20th century, as it gained a reputation as a refuge for blacks moving to Memphis from rural areas in the South. Orange Mound fell into decline in the 1980s and 1990s, but in the new century the neighborhood has experienced a revival, driven in part by older residents using its rich heritage to encourage the next generation to take a more active role in improving and maintaining the community. Orange Mound’s 125th anniversary celebration in 2015, for example, was a tremendous success, thanks in part to the partnership between local government, nonprofits, community organizations, educational institutions and businesses.

Preserve America Communities, great places to live, visit and explore, are located in all 50 states and several overseas U.S. territories. The total number of such communities nationwide now stands at 905. A full list of the communities, along with profiles and links for further information, can be found at www.preserveamerica.gov/PAcommunities.html. The program is administered by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) with assistance from the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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