First African Baptist Church in Beaufort.
First African Baptist Church in Beaufort. Photo by C. Powell, National Park Service.

3 Beaufort sites added to Reconstruction Era National Historic Network


From staff reports

The National Park Service has announced the addition of four new sites to the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network and three are in Beaufort – First African Baptist Church, Tabernacle Baptist Church and the Robert Smalls House.

The network connects sites across the country who provide education, interpretation and research related to the period of Reconstruction. The Reconstruction Era (1861-1900) is one of the most fascinating and misunderstood periods in American History and includes stories of freedom, education and self-determination.

The First African Baptist Church in Beaufort was dedicated on Jan. 1, 1865, and served as a school for formerly enslaved people during the Civil War. It counted Congressman Robert Smalls among its members.

Beaufort’s Tabernacle Baptist Church was home to a school during the Civil War and held an Emancipation Day service on Jan. 1, 1863. Its members served as community leaders in Reconstruction era Beaufort, and today is the final resting place of Smalls.

And the Robert Smalls House in Beaufort is the property that Smalls purchased in the 1863 Direct Tax Auctions in Beaufort. It was his home for the rest of life.

Historic Brattonsville in York County was also added to the network. It interprets the lives of formerly enslaved people living and working on an 800-acre historic plantation site in the years after the Civil War.

“The Reconstruction Era is an important part of our national story,” Superintendent Scott Teodorski said in a release. “These new sites join a wide range of sites from across the country that provide opportunities to learn about this critical period in our history. We are pleased to welcome these new sites to the network and to work with them to showcase their stories.”

The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, signed into law on March 12, 2019, outlined the creation of the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network. This network, managed by Reconstruction Era National Historical Park, includes sites and programs that are affiliated with the Reconstruction Era, but not necessarily managed by the National Park Service.

This network is nationwide and works to provide opportunities for visitors to connect to the stories of Reconstruction. For more information about the Reconstruction Era National Historic Network, visit https://www.nps.gov/subjects/reconstruction/network.htm.

This story will be updated.

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