Welcome to Sumner Hall! Located in historic Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, this is one of two existing African American G.A.R. buildings still standing in the United States and the only one offering regular programs. Built circa 1908 and fully restored in 2014, it serves today as a museum, education site, performance stage, social hall, gallery and community center. Sumner Hall is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, funded by donations and memberships.
As a result of the Smithsonian choosing Sumner Hall for its 2017 Museums on Main Street program, it is currently featuring four locally developed exhibits that tell the story of the work experiences of African Americans in our community.
- Free and Enslaved – African Americans at Work in Antebellum Kent County. This exhibit includes 10 historical wall panels and features biographies of several African American citizens.
- Soldiers and Founders of G.A.R. Charles Sumner Post #25. Three descriptive wall panels highlight the story of African American soldiers in the U.S. Civil War and the work of the Grand Army of the Republic. Also featured: a directory of the known information about the 471 African American soldiers from Kent County who served in the war.
- Oral Histories – Reflections on Living and Working in Kent County, Maryland. Students from Kent County High School and Washington College spoke with about 50 local citizens and produced a set of video and audio interviews that document the meaning of their work and work experiences.
- Working at Vita Foods Though the Years. This exhibit includes tells the story of the workers at this company that employed many African Americans in the mid twentieth century.
Sumner Hall is open to the pubic most Saturdays of the year from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm. Please consult the calendar on this website for any changes to these regular hours and to see what is happening at Sumner Hall. You may also contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) to set up a visit at another time.