The mission of the Rutherford B.H. Yates Museum, Inc. is to promote research, historic preservation, and education as it relates to the International History of the Printed Word, Art, and Culture of the African Diaspora, and its impact on building communities, before and after slavery. The R. B. H. Yates Museum/Homestead Culture Park will provide exhibition space, internship opportunities to students of all ages in the related fields of history, preservation, literacy education, archaeology, museum management, and journalism.
In 1984, a 40-block area west of Downtown was designated, by the National Park Service and the National Trust in Washington, DC, as the National Historic District of Freedmen’s Town. It is the ONLY REMAINING National Historic District, Post-Civil War, Freed Slave community of its kind in the United States.
In 1984 the National Historic District consisted of 530 National Register Properties, and today there are less than 30 remaining in the oldest & most important Black Community of Houston.
In response to requests by Mrs. Olee Yates McCullough, daughter of Rutherford B. H. Yates Sr., and members of the African American Community to create a Museum, the National Register home of R. B. H. Yates was purchased by a current Rutherford B. H. Yates Museum board member, Catherine Roberts, in 1995, when the committed, political and restoration process began. The Rutherford B. H. Yates Museum, Inc. became a 501[c] in Dec. 1996, just a few days after Mrs. Olee Yates-McCullough passed away.
In 1997, in order to accurately interpret the history of Freed Slave communities and to guarantee the sustainability of our Project, we expanded our vision to include the acquisition of the lots and historic homes immediately surrounding the Yates home (70,000 sq. ft. – Phase I & II). We began:
• Advocating for the preservation of the remaining historic homes as Museums and vacant lots for Green Classrooms and Environmentally friendly Parks.
• Planning for the reproduction of the historic trolley and its original route to the Downtown Theater and Sports District and shuttle between the Museum of Printing History, the Gregory School of Cultural History, and the R. B. H. Yates Homestead.
• Identifying the proper archaeological process for the preservation of the hand made brick streets and the creation of an appropriate infrastructure design.
• Advocating to save the original Gregory School as an Archival & Cultural Center (the Gregory Institute, from which the Gregory School was created, was founded, designed and built by the 1st Freed Slave Families in the 1870's).
Each Museum house will be dedicated to the individuals from the founding families in the National Historic District of Freedmen’s Town who were to become the 1st Professionals in varied fields: Judge, Dentistry, Architecture, Music Teachers, blacksmith, librarians, printers, and the 1st women of African Heritage in Oveta Culp Hobby’s Women’s Army Corp – and more.