NENA to lead research on historic Dallard-Newman House in Harrisonburg

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — The Northeast Neighborhood Association is parterning with a group from James Madison to tell a more complete story about historic Dallard Newman house in Harrisonburg.

The Dallard Newman house is one of the few middle class African American homes to survive in Harrisonburg. It was built by former enslaved African Americans during the reconstruction era, and now, NENA is converting it into a museum to tell the story of black families in the area.

This year, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources awarded a grant to NENA for archeaological research. Dr. Dennis Blanton, a professor of archaeology at JMU, is serving as the cheif invesigator for the project. He, along with several students, began digging up artifacts in the backyard of the Dallard-Newman house.

Blanton said what they've found gives a glimpse into what life was life for the Dallard and Newman families.

"We're finding a lot of personal items that speak to their professional and civic lives," Blanton said. "We know that the family prided itself on being well-educated and being involved in education. We've found a lot of writing utensils and pencils."

Blanton also said the group has found a lot of artifacts relating to the children's experience.

"We're finding a lot of toys, baby doll parts, little animals, and marbles," he said.

According to Blanton, the project should be completed this Spring.