Following the Civil War, Hosanna School, also known as Berkley School, was established in Maryland in 1867 by the U.S. Freedmen’s Bureau. The Bureau supported the school until Harford County School Commissioners assumed the responsibility in 1879. Thus, it became the first African American public school in Harford County. Although the building was condemned by Maryland in 1907, the African American community pulled together to keep the school operating for almost 40 years. In 1948, the structure was purchased by local residents who created the Hosanna Community House, Inc. It served as a core meeting center for the Harford County African American community, with a brief interruption from Hurricane Hazel in 1954. The building underwent several periods of restoration following this event and today resembles the original two-story schoolhouse. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this present-day structure is culturally-rich with Harford County African American history.
Paca was the original owner of the land on which this museum is located. He was
a free African American male during the 1800’s, who would pass a portion of his
land onto his son James. Of the inherited land, James sold ¼ acres in order to
establish a school for the surrounding community. Freedmen’s Bureau was a
department created by Congress in 1865, and their goal was to aid former slaves
and poor individuals of the South following the Civil War. Therefore, they provided
means for the construction of the original two-story Hosanna schoolhouse.
Freedmen’s Bureau financially supported the school until the bureau was
discontinued in 1872. Harford County took responsibility of the school in 1879,
and operations continued as the building began to decline.
to a lack of sufficient support from the county, Hosanna School continued to
deteriorate until it was denounced by Maryland in 1907. Educational operations
continued through the support and dedication of the African American students’
parents. The main and only teacher of Hosanna School was Mrs. Elva Presberry
Cain. She taught both African American children and adults of Harford County who
hoped to receive an education. Around 1946, Cain experienced a decline in
health that resulted in the Hosanna School ceasing operations. The former
Harford County school became a center for activities and meetings within the
community in 1948, officially known as the Hosanna Community House, Inc.
struck the building in 1954, when Hurricane Hazel destroyed its second-story.
Through local funds, the Hosanna Community House received a new roof and became
a one-story building. In 1983, Maryland provided money for restoration of the
site, yet it was not until 1993 until renovations began. The Hosanna Community
House reopened on September 10, 1994, after reconstruction of the first floor was
completed. Since the restoration of the second floor in September 2005, the
building resembles its original structure. The
Hosanna School Museum currently holds the history of local African Americans
who have helped to shape culture within Harford County.