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Spady Museum

Delray African-American museum to seek as much as $1 million

By REBECCA ORBACH Sun-Sentinel      
Web-posted: 12:26 a.m. Mar. 13, 2001

   DELRAY BEACH -- More than five years after envisioning an African-American heritage museum, organizers have just one-third of the money they need.
   Founders of the S.D. Spady Multi-Cultural Historical Museum have turned to county sources such as Palm Beach County Commissioner Addie Greene for help. The commissioner toured the site of the museum at 170 NW Fifth Ave. Monday and loved it, though she thought it was small.
   "Every new museum is one little spot -- and it's not enough," said Greene, who wants to help expand the museum's two lots to four.
   The Expanding and Preserving Our Cultural Heritage group has received $385,000 for renovations of the Spady home from Delray Beach, the Community Redevelopment Agency and Palm Beach County commissioners. Construction began in June.
   But they still have a long way to go. EPOCH plans to request an additional $800,000 to $1 million from the same sources to renovate a 900-square-foot cottage next door for administrative offices and children's programming and to build an amphitheater and pavilion. The budget also includes a garden and chicken coop behind the museum.
   The main museum will be in the 2,000-square-foot Spady home. Organizers hope to build an indoor/outdoor amphitheater for performances and will possibly add a third building, creating a complex instead of one museum building.
   "It's really grown beyond our initial vision," said Elaine Woods, executive director of EPOCH. "(Greene) will be instrumental in getting that complex stretched across and initiate some city funding and CRA funding."
   The museum will provide a history of African-American pioneers of the Delray Beach area. "I can't think of anyone who has more culture than we have and have not seen one establishment in Palm Beach County where this has been preserved," said Greene, who was elected in September to represent a district near the coast from Riviera Beach to Delray Beach.
   Greene said she will work with county commissioners to help fund the museum with recreation and landscaping grants. She said the county also will match any city funds.
   The Spady Multi-Cultural Historical Museum will become the second African-American heritage museum in Palm Beach County. The other is in West Palm Beach.
   Solomon David Spady, a teacher, principal and activist, built the Mission Revival-style stucco home in 1926.
   Before museum renovations began, the home had not been significantly changed. Spady's relatives are working with EPOCH to renovate the home to its original style. Organizers said they want the home to have a lived-in, 1920s feel.
   "I begged them not to fix this," said Vera Farrington, founder and president of EPOCH, as she points to an old brick fireplace during the tour. "In 1926, the kind of work that was put into this house -- this was a house before its time." The original light fixtures and archways in each room have remained untouched.
   Rebecca Orbach can be reached at or 561-243-6618.

Copyright 2000, Sun-Sentinel Co. & South Florida Interactive, Inc.

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