Warren County Community Center (1934)

The Warren County Community Center was born out of need. In the 1930’s in the small, rural county of Warren, separate was not equal. Schools lacked books and supplies, Black people could not use the library and in downtown Warrenton, there were no rest rooms for “colored” people. Basic human and civil rights of African Americans were being violated and not met. The Community Center came into being to right a wrong, injustice against African Americans.

Episcopal Priest Odell Harris wrote about the need for the Community Center in his book It Can Be Done.

When we first moved to Warrenton, the city public library was for whites only. No blacks could go in the comparatively small frame building. The Warren County Community Center and Library, Inc., sprang from an idea of Mrs. Winnie Williams, the oldest public school teacher in Warren County. Mrs. Williams kept talking about a needed reading room for teachers when they came to Warrenton. In plain language, she meant a Rest Room with lavatory facilities. 

During the dead depression days of the early thirties...Mrs. Williams’ idea expanded into a Community Center and Library. From a response of 100 postal cards sent out...Ninety-six persons—men and women—met at the John R. Hawkins School, (on) Christmas (day), December 1933...The group unanimously accepted the principles involved in the proposition, and began at once to set up the necessary machinery. 

According to the Articles of Incorporation, recorded on July 31, 1934, the group planned not only the purpose for the organization and building, but also what to do if the corporation was dissolved.

Full-color image of brick building with large brick staircase. "Community Center" on front awning.
Warren County Community Center, courtesy of Warren County Community Center 



Harris, Odell Greenleaf, edited by Prichard, Robert W., It Can Be Done, The Autobiography of a Black Priest of the Protestant Episcopal Church who started under the bottom and moved up to the top, The Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia, Alexandria, VA, 1985, page 35.
“Organization of the Warren County Community Center and Library, Inc., and the County-wide P.T.A.” by Lula R. Davis, Historian, August 24, 1959.
“Articles of Incorporation” of the Warren County Negro Community Center, 7/31/34 Carolina Watchman, Salisbury, NC, 11/15/1935, edition 1, page 8 “Make bricks by hand for community center”
“To Dedicate Negro Center”, The Warren Record, Warrenton, NC, 10/23/36, edition 43, page 1
King Johnson, Jereann. Personal interview with Shauna Williams. 10/25/21 (President, Heritage Quilters, Warrenton, former Host at the radio station WVSP).