virtual tour

ZONE 1: Gastonia & Highland History

This is the first zone of the museum and the backbone of Gastonia history. Zone 1 represents the historical achievements and accomplishments made by men and women living or have lived in Gastonia. The African American men and women featured in this zone range from business leaders to educators that all made notable contributions to Gastonia and Gaston County.

Zone 1 also contains headshots of major influencers of Gastonia including, but not limited to: the three mayors of Gastonia, the first councilwoman elected into office and the first African American mail carrier in Gastonia.


Welcome to the beginning of the tour, Zone 1- Gastonia and Highland History.

To start off, One of the major African Americans featured in this zone is Dr. Herbert Erwin, Sr., who was the founder of the Negro Colored Hospital. Along with his medical profession, Dr. Erwin was an avid baseball fan and was made responsible for the Negro Baseball Team to play in Gastonia. The Erwin Center and Park was named after him.

Also, the city of Gastonia is home to some influential Gaston County politicians. The first ever Gastonia mayor who was also an educator was T. Jeffers. Following Mr. T. Jeffers, Mr. Glendale Brooks took office. The last and current mayor of Gastonia, Mr.Walker Reid, won his second term in November of 2019. In addition, Donyel Barber became the first councilwoman to ever be elected into the Gastonia City Council.


Gaston County is divided into twelve municipalities. Gastonia is the larger of the twelve and is the county seat.

​​​Belmont, Bessemer City, Cherryville, Cramerton, Dallas, Dellview,
High Shoals, Lowell, McAdenville, Mt. Holly, Ranlo, Spencer Mountain, Stanley


Welcome to Zone 2- Gaston County Municipalities or Townships

In Belmont, Mr. Charles B. Reid is noted as Founder of the first African American School, Reid High School.

Belmont can also claim Mrs. Julia Neal Sykes, a renowned author of four books and retired public school teacher. The museum was able to honor her for her work during National Author’s Day in 2019.

Mt. Holly is home to Ransom Hunter, a former slave who became a successful businessman after gaining his freedom. ​​​

We also would like to acknowledge all the people in the military service in this zone, one in particular being Master Sergeant James William Smith. Master Sergeant Smith is known for taking apart a broomstick to plug holes in an aircraft so him and his team could arrive safely in Vietnam during the war


A Range of Digital Devices and Hands-on-Learning with QR codes. The area is dedicated to our youths. In this Zone, our young people will learn about the scientists, inventors, advocates, and events that affected the lives of African Americans in a positive way. This journey will provide them with the determination to persevere despite the obstacles they encounter in their daily lives.


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Explore Zone 4: Island of Rotating Exhibits and Displays (Special and Seasonal)

Special Events, and Seasonal Displays , African American Read-In, The Coretta Scott King Book Awards, Juneteenth, Kwanzaa, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Black History Month


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Explore Zone 5: Little Korner Bookshop
The Korner Bookshop features local African American Authors, as well as works by regional and national authors. The shop partners with local vendors, to promote and sale some of their goods and products.

Parents will find some of the best African American Literature written and illustrated for children. And, for the nostalgic group, the BB Bat, Kits, and Bit-O-Honey Candies can be found on the checkout counter.


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Explore Zone 6: Faith-based, Public Services, and The Arts
The free-standing panels spotlight leaders that helped pave, shape, and mold Gastonia/Gaston County – the best of what they always wanted in their history and culture.


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Explore Zone 7: Nostalgia
“Look Where He Brought Me From” – Nostalgic

“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.” -President Barack Obama


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