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.
Sumner Hall is open each Saturday of the year from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm unless otherwise noted here on our website. We are pleased to open the museum other times by appointment. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an arrangement.
BLACK ENTREPRENEURS OF THE 50’s & 60’s
Thanks to a Maryland Traditions grant received by RiverArts, Airlee Johnson and Lani Seikaly curated an exhibition sharing the stories of 24 African Americans who were either black business owners, their families, their employees, or the clients of businesses open in the 50’s and 60’s. Over 15 businesses were operating on Cannon Street alone which residents described as a busy commerce area during the week and a bustling place on Friday and Saturday nights. And the infamous Charlie Graves’ Uptown Club on Calvert Street added to the vitality of the time by bringing in big name singers including James Brown, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Patti Labelle, Etta James and Ray Charles to perform.
The exhibition, which premiered at the RiverArts Studio Gallery in May 2018, is now featured at Sumner Hall. It includes interview excerpts, old photos and over 50 short Youtube videos telling the stories of growing up and/or doing business here in Chestertown in the 50’s and 60’s.
The Board and Volunteers of G.A.R. Post #25 wish to express their appreciation to RiverArts and Maryland Traditions for exhibiting Black Entrepreneurs of the 50’s and 60’s at Sumner Hall!