Blog Post

Mount Pleasant Preservation Society

After the Civil War, a group of African Americans in Marion expressed their newly established autonomy and withdrew from white-led churches. They proceeded to found new churches, including Mount Pleasant Methodist Church in 1871. The church shared a frame sanctuary with a local Baptist church until 1914, when Black brick masons worked to build a new church. Mount Pleasant Methodist Church served its congregation for 131 years. In the years the church was open, many people found refuge, hope, and comfort within its walls. Unfortunately, in 2002, the church closed its doors to the community. However, this was not permanent. Evelyn Thompson Lawrence, who was a teacher at Carnegie School, devoted countless years of her life to collecting and preserving the history of Smyth County’s Black residents. Lawrence was one of the last members of Mount Pleasant Methodist Church and she eventually began, with the help of others, to convert the church into a museum and community center. In 2015, Lawrence died just months after receiving the deeds to the church. With her passing, other members of the community rose to the task of maintaining and preserving the museum. Now, Margaret Edwards, Diane Hayes, Regina Roberts, and Deborah Montgomery serve as leaders for the Mount Pleasant Preservation Society. This museum serves as a center for learning and reflecting about the history of Smyth County and the residents within it. It is a dedicated historical landmark and is an important place to the community. To learn more about the Mount Pleasant Preservation Society Museum or to visit, contact Diane Hayes at 276-780-3950. 

Storytellers of Appalachia created a short film on the Mount Pleasant Preservation Society. To view the film, click here.