Friday, September 14, 2007

Historical Highlights by Irena Dorton

The Latta Place and Oberlin Village

A significant vestige of Raleigh’s African American history exists only a few blocks from Cameron Village in central Raleigh. Although the Latta House burned in the spring of 2007, its large, lushly wooded site still remains as a memorial to this African American landmark. Reverend M. L. Latta established Latta “University” on his property in the late 1800s. Latta’s house was the last remaining building of the school campus, which educated children of all ages. The campus extended the depth of the block between Parker and Tower streets in the Oberlin Village neighborhood. Neighborhood residents consider the Latta site to be sacred ground because of its significance to Oberlin Village, one of the first freedmen villages founded on the Raleigh outskirts after the Civil War. Former slave James E. Harris¸ educated at Oberlin College in Ohio, founded the village in 1866. By 1880 about 750 individuals lived in the settlement that became known as Oberlin. It stretched along both sides of a dirt road from Hillsborough Street north toward Wade Avenue, now named Oberlin Road. While newer houses and commercial development along Oberlin Road have altered the rural black settlement, much of its old-fashioned charm persists. A number of the descendants of the founding families still live in the village, and many houses reflect the neighborhood’s heyday in the late 1800s and early and mid-1900s. -Irena Dorton

This is the site of the former Latta House.

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