Black History Month: A New Exhibit Opens at Raleigh's Pope House Museum
Thursday, February 04, 2021, 1pm by visitRaleigh
For Black History Month, the Pope House Museum in downtown Raleigh announced a new exhibit, "A Family Story: Images of the Pope House Museum," opening Sat., Feb. 6.
As the only African American house museum in the Tar Heel state, downtown Raleigh's Pope House Museum offers a look into the life of one of Raleigh’s prominent African American citizens, Dr. Manassa Thomas Pope. Born in 1858, Dr. Pope was a graduate of the Leonard School of Medicine at Shaw University (just two blocks away from his future home), one of the state's first Black practicing physicians, an officer during the Spanish-American War and the only African American man to run for mayor of a Southern capital in the Jim Crow Era (his 1919 bid was unsuccessful in that he was not elected, but is credited with motivating a large Black voter turnout).
After the Spanish-American War, Dr. Pope returned to Raleigh in 1899, setting up practice on Fayetteville St. and later Hargett St. (the heart of Raleigh's Black Main Street). Completed in 1901, the Pope House was purposely built in the once-thriving African American enclave known as the Third Ward, which included the 500 block of S. Wilmington St. and was also home to other Black doctors, dentists and lawyers.
The two-story brick home was considered elegant for its time, featuring front and rear porches, dark wood finishings, a petal-shaped stained glass window in front and an oak-crafted staircase. Dr. Pope also installed the latest technology, including combination gas and electric fixtures, a kitchen with running water, a full bathroom on the second floor, coal burning heating stoves and even a telephone (only number 467 in a town of about 13,000 people). Later a sun porch was added to the second floor above the front door, and a garage was built to house an automobile.
Note: Take a virtual tour of the home by clicking and navigating below.
Married to Delia H. Phillips in 1907, the couple raised two daughters at the Wilmington St. house—Evelyn and Ruth, both of whom later earned degrees from Columbia University and became notable teachers, before returning to the area and looking after the house.
The Pope House was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places on Nov. 22, 1999, and in 2011 the City of Raleigh opened the Pope House Museum for regular visitation for the first time.
Today, visitors can tour the home complete with original furnishings, artifacts and documents dating back to 1851. From Dr. Pope's father's freedman papers to his voter registration card to his original doctor's bag from the Spanish-American War, the collection boasts a wide range of material culture.
For Black History Month, the Pope House Museum announced a new exhibit, "A Family Story: Images of the Pope House Museum," opening Sat., Feb. 6. This exhibit explores African American photography through the Pope House Museum's collection. The images ranging from tintypes of the late 19th century to Polaroid photos and cover the life of Dr. Manassa T. Pope and his family from 1880-1999.
The Pope House is open Saturdays, 9am-2pm, and Sundays, 1-4pm. Visitors must submit to a wellness check while wearing either a mask or a face shield prior to entering the house. Between each tour, the museum will be cleaned in preparation for the next available group. In addition, private group tours are available. Please call the City of Raleigh Museum (COR Museum) to reserve your spot, 919.996.2220.
Header photo by Keenan Hairston