Longtime Freetown Village director retires


Ophelia Wellington, founding director of Freetown Village Living History Museum, will be retiring this summer after 42 years of advancing a transformative and creative concept of educating the public about African American history in Indiana.

Combining her profession as an educator and sharing information through the performing arts, Wellington created a living history museum without walls that sent actors and singers across Indiana and into surrounding states portraying characters from the town of Freetown Village.

These actors, trained and dressed in time-appropriate costumes, presented experiences from the 1870 period about the villagers representing the composite lives and stories of nearly 3,000 African Americans who lived on the west side of Indianapolis in 1870. This post-Civil War period encapsulated African Americans who migrated north to create a new hope-filled life. Freetown Village also represents over 60+ predominately African American settlements scattered throughout Indiana during the 1800s that became the home of others leaving the South. By 1997, Freetown Village expanded to include more contemporary issues in African American life and culture that reflect different time periods to provide a more expansive story.  

Through storytelling, folk crafts, heritage workshops, special events and a signature summer day camp, Indiana’s African American history has been shared across generations, reaching over a million audience members.

Juneteenth events: 31st annual Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival
The Freetown Village Singers are scheduled to perform at the Juneteenth and Jazz Community Celebration, Saturday June 17 at the Eiteljorg Museum. Admission to the museum is free that day. (Photo provided/Eiteljorg Museum)

Wellington’s visionary and passionate leadership for preserving and sharing the African American History in Indiana will be celebrated with a retirement fundraising event on Friday, May 3 at the Cabaret, 924 N Pennsylvania St., Indianapolis, IN which offers the ideal ambiance for honoring this significant milestone. This is a unique opportunity for the community to come together and express our deep gratitude for Wellington’s dedication and contributions while enjoying food, entertainment by Freetown Village performers and the Rob Dixon Trio, spoken word performances, and heartfelt tributes that will reflect the past, present, and future journey for Freetown Village.

Visit www.freetownvillage.org for reservations.

The Freetown Village Board of Directors has formed an Executive Search and Selection Committee to identify a new Executive Director. See a copy of the Executive Director position description at www.freetown.org for more information.