The Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum, formerly known as the Black Heritage Festival/Museum of New Smyrna Beach, Inc., is one of a few of its kind in the State of Florida. It is housed in the 19th century restored old Sacred Heart/St. Rita building, built in 1899. The structure was once a place of worship for a congregation of Black Roman Catholics. The Centennial Celebration was held December 11, 1999, marking 100 years of the building’s existence and the official opening of the Museum. The building is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
The Museum is used to display a collection of memorabilia and artifacts used to educate citizens and students about the history and race relations in small town Florida over the course of the twentieth century. The information dates back to the early 1900s. It offers a glimpse of African American History centered around, but not restricted to, the heritage of African Americans prior to and including that period. The museum keeps the past alive through its exhibits, programs and guided tours. The building contains approximately 600 square feet.
A permanent exhibit, the Heritage House, also known as the “shotgun house,” was added and located just across the street from the museum, with period furniture and accessories.
In honor of its founder, the museum was renamed The Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum, Inc. by the Board of Directors, January 25, 2012. The museum is open to the public. Admission is free. Small groups are encouraged to use the Museum for meetings.
The Museum is owned by the Black Heritage Festival of New Smyrna Beach, Inc., a 501 C(3) Organization, EIN #59-3436288. It is operated by a Board of Directors along with an Executive Director.