ACM Professor and Author Gives FSU Students Tour of Brownsville on Campus
On Tuesday, Nov. 6, Dr. Lynn Bowman, an English professor at Allegany College of Maryland and the author of Being Black in Brownsville: Echoes of a “Forgotten” Frostburg, gave students at Frostburg State University a tour on campus of what used to be Brownsville.
Brownsville was an African-American community founded in 1866 when Tamar Brown, probably a newly freed slave, purchased the first lot for $150. The majority of the community was located in what is now the Upper Quad of campus. The state of Maryland began purchasing the property that made up Brownsville in 1927 in order to expand Normal School No. 2, now Frostburg State University.
The community had its own school, the Lincoln Schoolhouse; church, the John Wesley A.M.E Church; family-run businesses, such as “Harper’s Parklane,” the “Cotton-Club,” and Tommy Taylor’s “Blue Room;” as well as its own skating rink and an interracial ballpark. Overall, 40 family names resided in the community. The last wave of purchasing Brownsville property by the state occurred from 1955-1968.
Dr. Bowman visits FSU to give students a tour of what used to be Brownsville every semester, as Dr. Amy Branam-Armiento, head of the English Department, arranges for her to give these tours to her African-American studies classes. This year, there were a total of 10-15 students who attended the tour.
The tour involves walking around the Upper Quad as Dr. Bowman points out locations of what used to be the Brownsville neighborhood prior to the university’s expansion. Dr. Bowman also pointed out the second and third locations of certain landmarks. The John Wesley A.M.E. Church had two locations, and the Lincoln School house had three different locations.
In relation to the university, some of the sites of Brownsville today include the property of Tamar Brown’s house, and the first location of the Lincoln Schoolhouse, which is now where Simpson Hall sits. The second location of the Lincoln Schoolhouse was located where Compton Hall is today, and its third location is still standing– it is part of the University Police Station. The first location of the John Wesley A.M.E. Church was replaced by Lowndes Hall.
The White’s house and the Harper’s house were recently demolished for the new apartment complex on University Drive– the White’s house now being the parking lot and the Harper’s house now part of the apartment building. The last remaining building from Brownsville is the University Police Station.
Currently, a commemoration for Brownsville is in motion. The project will consist of placing a monument on campus in tribute to the community. The estimate for the project is set at $10,000. It will be finalized after funds are raised and its placement on campus is verified. The target date to raise funds for the monument is April 1, 2017 and it is anticipated that there will be a dedication ceremony in October of 2017. To donate or to spread awareness, visit https://www.gofundme.com/brownsville-fsu.