Sunday, November 15, 2009

Welcome to the James A. Fields House Blog!

The Fields House is a historic landmark and museum located in Newport News, Virginia and is named in honor of Mr. James ApostlesFields (1844-1903), who owned the house from 1897 to 1903. Mr. Fields was born into slavery in Hanover County, Virginia in 1844. During the Civil War in 1862, he and his brother, George Washington Fields, escaped slavery and found refuge at Fort Monroe, thereby becoming “contraband of war” by the Union Army.

After the Civil War, James A. Fields enrolled at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (now Hampton University) in 1868, and became a part of the school’s first graduating class in 1871. After graduating, Mr. Fields taught in Elizabeth City County and in Williamsburg, VA. Years later, he furthered his education at the School of Law of Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he graduated in 1881.

Other accomplishments of James A. Fields included becoming the first black Commonwealth Attorney for Warwick County, VA (now Newport News) in 1887 and serving in the Virginia Legislature from 1889 to 1890.

James A. Fields used his property at 617-27th Street as his law office and primary residence until his death in 1903. This address was just one of the fifteen properties that he owned in the city of Newport News.

The Fields House is also associated with a significant event that occurred in 1908, when the top floor of the Fields house became the location of the first African American hospital in Newport News. This hospital was started by a team of four doctors: Drs. W. T. Forman, W. P. Dickerson, W. W. Whittaker, and W. T. Jones, who pooled their savings together to establish a hospital for local African Americans. Prior to the opening of the hospital, the city jail's infirmary was the only place in Newport News that provided medical care for African American residents.

In the year 2000, Mr. Gregory Cherry (1955-2007), a native of Newport News and a history enthusiast, purchased the dilapidated Fields house for $1 and then began restoring the house. The house was scheduled to be torn down by the city, but Mr. Cherry patiently petitioned the City of Newport News for three years to purchase the historic James Apostles Fields House. Because of the efforts of Mr. Cherry, the James A. Fields House is now listed on the Virginia Landmark Register, the National Register of Historic Places, and the Virginia Civil War Trails. Today, the Fields House gives visitors a glimpse into the lives of African Americans living in Newport News during the turn of the century

1 comment:

LMM/RDM said...

Dr.Saundra Cherry,

We are celebrating you, the history of the James A. Fields House and the rich legacy that your husband, Gregory Cherry has left for generations to come. Proudly we realize and appreciate that here stands an important landmark and museum dedicated to the pioneering spirit of our own James A. Fields. Indeed he was a visionary and a triumphant African American! I pray that many will enter the doors of the James A. Fields House and you be continually blessed as you embark upon this important endeavor of keeping the dream alive.

With Great Admiration,
Linda Mose Meadows, Inspirational Columnist & Author
The Blessedness of Believing
A Devotional Journey of Life's Lessons and God's Promises