Historical Markers Program
The African American Heritage Society of Maury County started the historical markers program to remind the residents, and introduce newcomers to Maury County history. The first marker, College Hill School, was dedicated during the 2014 College Hill/Carver-Smith Reunion. The College Hill School, established in 1881, was the first public school for African Americans in Columbia.
In October 2020, the African American Heritage Society of Maury County placed its fifth marker and the first for an individual, Edmund Kelly.
Below is the list of markers placed by the African American Heritage Society of Maury County with descriptions and locations.
The Edmund Kelly Marker was the Society’s first for an individual. Born into slavery in Columbia, TN. Kelly became an educator, evangelist, and writer. He was one of the first ordained ministers in Tennessee and the first African American from Tennessee to head a national religious denomination. In 1863, Kelly was with a delegation of African American Baptist minister who met with President Abraham Lincoln; and he was with the delegation who met with President Andrew Johnson.
The marker is located on the Mt. Lebanon Missionary Church property at 218 East Eighth Street.
Freedmen’s Savings & Trust Bank
The Columbia Branch of the Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Bank, one of four in Tennessee, established by Samuel M. Arnell and James P. Baird over the McGaw Livery Stable in 1870. The other branches were in Chattanooga, Memphis, and Nashville.
The marker is located near the corner of North Main and East Sixth Street.
A. J. Morton Funeral Home 1946 Columbia Race Riot
A two-side marker placed at the site of the A. J. Morton Funeral Home. On side 1, the A.J. Morton and Son Funeral Home, first undertaking business to serve African Americans in Maury County and operated by descendants for almost 100 years; and Side 2, the 1946 Columbia Race Riot, which many historian believe to be the event that jump-stated the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
The marker is located at 115 East Eighth Street.
Maury County Colored Hospital
In 1923, the leaders in the African American community established the Maury County Colored Hospital. The hospital operated for more than 30 years and closed in 1954 when Maury Regional Hospital opened with the promise to reserve beds for African Americans.
The marker is located at 506 East Seventh Street.
College Hill School
The College Hill School, originally known as the Colored Public School, was the first public school for African Americans in Maury County. In 2006 the school was renamed Horace O. Porter School at College Hill in memory of the former student, football coach, and principal, who served more than 40 years.
The marker is located at 1101 Bridge Street.