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Indiana Landmarks event explores Marion’s African American heritage

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On July 25, Indiana Landmarks offers Exploring Marion¹s African American Heritage, a day of lectures and tours for people who want to know more about the work of black architect Samuel Plato and his influence in architecture and the community of Marion.

Click here for your chance to win free tickets! 

Some of Plato’s Marion designs remain in good repair, like the Hostess House, an event venue with a lunch restaurant and clothing boutique, but a number of his works are lost, most recently the Arts & Crafts residence at 225 W. Spencer Ave. Concern for the architect’s legacy led to the formation of one of Indiana Landmarks¹ newest affiliate organizations, Save Our Stories (SOS), says J.P. Hall, director of Indiana Landmarks Eastern Regional Office.

The day-long program will take place at the historic Wilson-Vaughan Hostess House, 723 W. Fourth St. in downtown Marion. Samuel Plato designed the home for wealthy businessman J. Wood Wilson, who commissioned it as a wedding gift for his bride. Participants will see two other Plato-designed buildings‹the house at 721 W. Fourth St. and the Platonian Apartments. The tour also will touch on other aspects of Marion’s architectural and African American heritage. In addition to his role as an architect, Samuel Plato was a leader in the civil rights movement. During one assignment, a group of white construction workers refused to work with him.

Plato famously responded, “those of you who would not work with me will work for me some day.”

During the construction of the Hostess House, Plato insisted that black contractors on the job be allowed to join the local workers union, a practice he continued in subsequent projects. After the completion of the Hostess House, Plato won contracts to build churches, schools, stores and houses before leaving Marion with his family in 1921.

William F. Munn, Grant County Historian, will lecture on African American history in Marion, and Sharon Wilson will discuss the life and work of Samuel Plato. Wilma Moore of the Indiana Historical Society will talk about the society¹s Early African American Settlements Heritage Initiative.

The day also includes the dedication at 3:30 p.m. of an Indiana State Historical Marker in front of the Hostess House recognizing Samuel Plato. Program speakers include Casey Pfeiffer, manager of the Historical Marker Program for the Indiana Historical Bureau, and Mark Dollase, Indiana Landmarks Vice President of Preservation Services. Local representatives also will offer remarks. The marker was underwritten by an African American Heritage Fund grant from Indiana Landmarks. The marker dedication ceremony is free and open to the public.

Exploring Marion’s African American Heritage costs $40 per person ($25>for Indiana Landmarks members), which includes lunch and the tours. The tour requires walking. Tickets are available online at platoexperience.eventbrite.com or by calling 800-450-4534.

WHAT: Exploring Marion’s African American Heritage ­ a day of exploration

of African American architect Samuel Plato and his influence in Marion

WHEN: Saturday, July 25, 2015, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

WHERE: Hostess House, 723 W. 4th St., Marion, IN 46952 and other sites

WHO: Sponsored by Indiana Landmarks African American Landmarks Committee.

COST: $40 per person ($25 per Indiana Landmarks member), includes lunch

and tour. Buy ticket online at platoexperience.eventbrite.com or call (317) 639-4534 or 800-450-4534.

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