The Mission of Hosanna Community House, doing business as (dba) Hosanna School Museum, is to collect, preserve, and interpret the history of Harford County, Maryland through the lens
of the African American experience
within national contexts.
Lead experiential education in elevating African American history and culture;
making the connections between the past,
present, and future.
What We Do
Hosanna Community House (HCH), doing business as Hosanna School Museum, offers an array of historical and cultural events including our annual Juneteenth Celebration Festival in partnership with several community organizations. We lead the County in identifying Underground Railroad sites and conducting historic site tours. We also feature book signings, author talks, film screenings, discussions, lectures, genealogy workshops, youth workshops exploring traditional crafts, and more.
The property upon which Hosanna School stands was first owned by a free African American man named Cupid Paca. In 1822 Paca bought fifty acres of land running from Berkley into Darlington. When he died, his holdings were divided among his surviving children.
In the mid-1800s, Cupid Paca’s son, Joseph, sold 1/4 acre of his share of inherited land to be used as “a schoolhouse lot.”
Miss Edmonia Highgate held the first class in the adjacent Hosanna AME Church in March of 1865 but did not stay long before moving to Louisiana. Miss Mary Watson replaced her several months later and was instrumental in working with the church and community leadership to get funding from benevolent organizations and support from the Freedmen’s Bureau (FB) to build and develop the school between 1867 and 1868. The building of Freedmen’s Bureau schools was mandated by law through the War Department across all of the former slave-holding states for the purpose of educating the recently freed African Americans. The FB provided lumber for Hosanna–a two-story frame building that was used as a schoolhouse, a community meeting place, and a church. In 1879 the operation of the school was assumed by the Harford County School Commissioners.
In 1907 the school building was actually condemned for use as a school. Still, Hosanna remained active as a schoolhouse for local African American children until 1945.
In 1948, Hosanna Community House, Incorporated (HCH) was established with corporate/fiduciary oversight of the Hosanna School by African American men in the community so that they could continue to have a community meeting place. In 1954, Hurricane Hazel sheared off the top floor of the building. The corporation, with its limited funds, preserved what was left of the building by placing a roof on the remaining structure.
Restoration of the building took place in stages over a 20-year period (1983-2005). In 1983 the corporation received funding from the State of Maryland to stabilize the building. Actual restoration of the remaining floor of the building began in 1993. A grand opening and dedication of the partially restored Hosanna School took place on September 10, 1994. Restroom facilities and a handicapped access ramp were also added. In September of 2005, the restoration of the second floor was achieved. It now stands as the original two-story structure.
In 1988, Hosanna School was added to the National Register of Historic Places; McComas Institute was added in 1980.
In 2015, the Maryland Historical Trust honored HCH with one of its highest awards, “Excellence in Exhibitions and Programming,” for developing our monumental “Faces of Freedom” initiative. In 2019, the Harford County Historic Preservation Commission recognized HCH with its highest award, “The Preservationist Honor Award,” for our ongoing efforts to preserve several sites of memory that commemorate the history of Harford County through the lens of the African American experience.
Between 2016 and 2017, HCH purchased the McComas Institute (another Freedmen’s Bureau school built in 1867), adjacent historic church building and cemetery—Mt. Zion United Methodist Church—which was built in 1865. Its leadership along with George March McComas were instrumental in getting funds from local and regional benevolent organizations and support from the Freedmen’s Bureau to build McComas School
Hosanna Community House, Inc.’s main goal is to preserve and share these landmarks and the histories and culture associated with them, as unique in the history of Harford County and of the United States of America. They preserve the Country School and early educational history along with the Reconstruction Era and early 20th-century history and culture of America.
Hosanna works with several organizations in the community: Harford County Government, Harford Community College, Hays-Heighe House at Harford Community College, Harford County Public Library, Havre de Grace Boys & Girls Club, Hosanna A.M.E. Church, The Liriodendron, The Historical Society of Harford County, Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway, and the Maryland Humanities Council.
Executive Director: Iris Leigh Barnes, Ph.D.
Docent: Marcus Jennings
Board of Directors
President: Sharoll Williams-Love
Treasurer and Financial Secretary: James Thornton
Parliamentarian: Agnes Minor
Dr. Lisa Robinson
JOB Opportunities (Click title below for full description)
Check periodically for position opportunities.
Hosanna Community House, doing business as Hosanna School Museum, does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, or political party affiliation in any of its activities or operations.
We believe that African American history is integral
to American history and is not a footnote.