African American History Burns in N.C.

Bulldozers flattened the remains of the Latta House after the
fire yesterday.

Credit: Latta Foundation

Yesterday a fire destroyed the National Register-listed Latta House in Raleigh, N.C. No one was hurt in the fire, which is still under investigation.

Located in Oberlin Village, a community that former slaves founded in 1866, the house has been vacant for years. It was once part of Latta University, which Rev. Morgan Latta, a former slave, established in 1892 to educate the black community. The Latta House was the last remant of the school, which closed in the 1920s.

"The sad part is, it either would have burned down or fallen down because no one was concerned enough to save it," Bill Shepherd, the house's caretaker, told the News & Observer.

Shepherd formed the Latta Foundation in 1997 to raise money to restore the house as a cultural center and archive. But the foundation faced an uphill battle.

"The land value was $1 million, and the house probably would have required $400,000 of work, and that's a challenging place to start from," says Myrick Howard, executive director of Preservation North Carolina.

The Latta House was listed as one of Raleigh's 128 historic landmarks.

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