The Blanchard House Museum of African American History and Culture
This site with explore the history of The Blanchard House Museum of African American History and Culture
Backstory and Context
The Blanchard House Museum
The Blanchard House Museum of African American History and Culture of Charlotte County is located at 406 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd Punta Gorda, Florida 33950. The house was developed in the style of that of a bungalow designed based on local needs, availability of construction materials and reflecting local traditions back in the 1905 until the early 1920s era in Florida. The house was originally built with 4 rooms and a front porch. Back then in those times that style house was the main style for smaller houses built throughout the country during that period. The house is now one of a few remaining examples of this type of residential architecture left in Charlotte County from the 1920’s. The house was moved in 2002 but it was originally located 3 blocks from its new present location on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd(Viva Florida, vivaflorida.org/Explore/Historic-and-Archaeological-Sites/The-Blanchard-House-Museum-of-African-American-History-Culture-of-Charlotte-County.)
The history behind The Blanchard House Museum was back in the early times of Punta Gorda’s African American pioneers built a community that would help them overcome slavery, segregation and prejudice. The house was originally owned by a fisherman known as Joseph Blanchard and his wife Minnie. Joseph Blanchard was born in St. Augustine and was a steam boat pilot, and Minnie was a mail order bride from Louisiana. The married couple helped many African American slaves and pioneers ( faahpn.com/about-faahpn.)
The Blanchard House really started to take place as a historical place after a woman by the name Bernice Russell bought the house after Minnie Blanchard passed away 1997. Bernice Russell in who was born in Marianna, Florida and was reared in Punta Gorda. She was a descendant of one of the first African American pioneer families to settle in Punta Gorda. The Blanchard House Museum was then established in 2004, in the way Bernice Russell wanted to format the African American History and Culture of the house.
Bernice Russell begin her journey towards establishing the African-American Museum in the 1980s she was known as a humanitarian, social activist and historian for the local African-American community in Punta Gorda, Fl. The purpose of her purchasing the Blanchard House museum was to show her pride in her roots and her culture also in giving back to the community which motivated her to document history culture and contributions of African-American slaves and pioneers.
Though today since Russell’s death in 1999, The Blanchard House museum brings local history alive in a collection of permanent and temporary exhibits. Carefully preserved artifacts and candid photographs interspersed with copies of news clips help to illustrate everyday life for residents predominantly in the 1800s and early 1900s. Blanchard House Museum is also yet another addition to this rich past of Punta Gorda. A large part that you get to witness in the museum is the struggle for freedom from slavery, Jim Crow Laws, and cultural perceptions through the eyes of famous African American men and women. The exhibit is a historically accurate, detailed, and beautifully presented. It is a story that compliments the struggle for freedom by all Americans.
Currently, the Blanchard House Museum is run by volunteers and is open to the public. There open season is from Sep 24, 2017 through May 19, 2018. The admission to the museum is free of charge and they go off donations. There regular hours are from 10 a.m. to 4p.m. Tuesday through Friday. The Blanchard House Museum offers different programmed activities and events to enhance the fun and learning.
The Mission Statement of The Blanchard House Museum is an open access, educational institution devoted to the procurement, preservation, study, and display of artifacts and materials related to the history, culture, and contributions of African Americans in the settlement and development of Charlotte County and Southwest Florida (Blanchard House Museum, www.blanchardhousemuseum.org/about-us.html).
“About FAAHPN.” FAAHPN, faahpn.com/about-faahpn/.
“About Us.” Blanchard House Museum, www.blanchardhousemuseum.org/about-us.html.
OPhelan, Ann Marie. Punta Gorda. Arcadia Pub., 2009.