TwHP Lessons

An American Success Story:
The Pope House of Raleigh, NC

[Photo] Dr. M. T. Pope House.
(Photo by Elizabeth Alley, courtesy of the Raleigh Historic Districts Commission)

[Photo] Pope family on the front porch, c. 1915.
(Courtesy the Pope House Museum Foundation)


n a busy street corner in downtown Raleigh, in the shadow of looming skyscrapers, sits a lonely, unassuming brick house. Built in 1901, this was the home of Dr. Manassa T. Pope, his wife Delia, and their two daughters, Ruth and Evelyn. Today, the Pope house sits as a lonely reminder that this area, known as the Fourth Ward, was once a thriving African-American neighborhood including stores, churches, businesses, and the homes of many black professionals.

For the Pope family, their home was a powerful symbol of this success. Though racial tensions were very high at the turn of the 20th century, the Popes refused to be treated like second-class citizens. The Popes and other members of the black middle class fought to maintain a high standard of living and show other African Americans that success was attainable through hard work and perseverance.

"The M.T. Pope House is significant to the city of Raleigh as a stalwart sentinel to both the worst and best of American society: It represents racial intolerance and segregation, but also the strength and dignity of those who refused to be subjugated by bigotry," according to the National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Pope House. "Its continued presence in a now stark commercial urban environment will remind generations to come of the dark days of segregation as well as of the strength and dignity of those who excelled in spite of it."¹

¹ Kenneth J. Zogry, "Dr. M.T. Pope House," (Raleigh, North Carolina) National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1999.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Map of downtown Raleigh, July 1903
 2. Map of downtown Raleigh, 2005

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. Family History
 2. Jonas Elias Pope's Freedman's Papers
 3. Dr. Pope's Voter Registration Card, 1902
 4. "My Autobiography" by Ruth Pope, 1939

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Shaw Medical School student body, 1886
 2. Member of the African-American
 Third North Carolina Regiment, 1899

 3. "Scene of the Atlantic and North
 Carolina Railroad..."

 4. Ruth and Evelyn Pope, c. 1913
 5. Delia Haywood Phillips Pope, c. 1905
 6. The Pope House, 2003

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Mock Election
 2. Constructing a Biography
 3. Race Relations in Your Hometown

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The lesson is based on the Dr. M.T. Pope House, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.



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