Webbies Grocery, Kiser Records, and Jack and Jill Soda Shop were all part of the vibrant thriving Black neighborhood known as Gainsboro. And so were the …
Horse Shoe Café, Nick’s Café, Hunter’s Café, Prunty’s Electric, Buster Webb’s Garage, William’s Printing Shop, Atlantic Sandwich Shop, Palace Hotel, Day & Night Taxi Stand, the medical practices of Doctors Kren and Penn and Downing, the dental office of Doctor Butler, Virginia Theater, 308 Club, Dick’s Coffee Shop, High Street Baptist Church, Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church, Burrell Memorial Hospital, and more …
In total, more than 200 small businesses, multiple churches, several schools, and more than 1,600 homes that were part of this community were lost to a series of “urban renewal” projects in the Northeast sector of Roanoke begun in the mid-1950s and extending into the early 1970s.
This exhibition features colorful drawings accompanied by penetrating stories from former Gainsboro resident David A. Ramey, Sr. (1939-2017). The artist documented his cherished memories of the businesses, homes, and places of worship that were a part of his everyday personal lived experience, bringing to life the former energy and dynamism of Henry Street, Gainsboro Road, and Roanoke’s extensive Northeast.
David Ramey’s artworks and narratives are believed to be among the most comprehensive and encompassing documentations of a Black community in America, with more than 200 lively images and 75 short narratives on view for the very first time.
David Ramey: Gainsboro Road and Beyond is organized by the Harrison Museum of African American Culture and the Taubman Museum of Art and is on view at both institutions September 1, 2023-March 31, 2024.
Harrison Museum of African American Culture welcomes visitors Wednesday through Saturday 10 am-3 pm.
The Taubman Museum of Art is open Friday and Saturday 10 am-5 pm and Sunday 12-5 pm, with extended hours until 9 pm on the first Friday of each month.
Admission to the exhibition at both museums is free.
David Ramey (American, 1939-2017), Gainsboro Road (detail), ©David Ramey