COLUMBUS (WMCH) — The Columbus City Council approved spending $1.1 million on redeveloping the two remaining buildings that are part of the historic Poindexter Village public housing site.
The Ohio History Connection purchased the remaining buildings from the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority. With help from the James Preston Poindexter Foundation, the site will be turned into a museum and cultural learning center.
Back in the 1940s, Poindexter Village was one of the nation’s first housing projects. It was also home for many African-Americans here in Columbus.
“Poindexter was a sense of hope,” said Reita Smith, member of the James Preston Poindexter Foundation.
Smith raised her three children in the Poindexter Village housing projects in the 1950s. She says it was a community that celebrated the African-American family.
“I had twins, and I could put them in the backyard and my neighbors looked after them. My son could play out in the courtyard and everybody looked after him. That is what the village is about,” said Smith.
In 1938, the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Suthority joined the national program to address urban housing. In 1940, Poindexter Village opened with 426 units in 33 buildings.
President Franklin Roosevelt attended the dedication of Poindexter Village, this was a part of his new deal program to pull the United States out of The Great Depression.
“When the building was ready to be named, there was a competition and his name was chosen because all he did for the city,” said Sanda Jamison, Member of the Second Baptist Church.
Reverend James Preston Poindexter was influential in the black community. He was a barber, conductor for the underground railroad, member of the City Council and a dozen other organizations. Most importantly he was the minster of the Anti-slavery Baptist Church and Second Baptist Church in Columbus.
“Things are very special in our past and should not be forgotten,” said Jamison
“We have to capture the essence and the fabric of what the black community was like,” said Smith.
The Ohio History Connection has not set a date for when the museum will open.