Halifax Triangle considered for historic designation

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - During the 19th and early 20th century the area known as the Halifax Triangle, is where some free blacks formed their own businesses and socialized before desegregation. Now, a push to protect the history of this area.

"This was like an oasis in a sea of segregation. This was the area of social, political, and economic life for black people in Petersburg," said Lee Stith, Triangle Center for Development.

The Halifax Triangle, also known as the Avenue, is an area bordered by Halifax Street, Harrison Street, and South Avenue.

It's where 85 year old Edward Farley grew up. He recalls all of the celebrities that visited and performed on the Avenue, such as James Brown, Chuck Berry and the first black boxing champion -- Jack Johnson.

"I never forget. He parked the car right in front of my daddy's place and when he got out the car everybody gathered round," said Edward Farley.

Farley and others want to raise awareness about the significance of the Halifax Triangle. They say it can be done, in part, by designating it as historic. But in letters to the city some business owners around the Triangle say they're concerned about how the designation could impact business.

"If it's designated as a historic district then any type of revitalization to existing buildings, or new buildings, have to go before the architectural review board and follow historic guidelines," said Joanne Williams, Petersburg city spokesperson.

Some business owners on the Avenue say they'd like to maintain the right to make decisions relative to development. For now, Farley is hopeful that the triangle will be officially recognized as historic.

During a public hearing tomorrow city council will vote in whether or not to designate the Halifax Triangle historic. That meeting will get underway at 7:30 Tuesday evening at Union Train Station in Petersburg. The public is encouraged to attend. 

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