OLEAN, N.Y. (WKBW) — After more than a decade, the African American Cultural Center in downtown Olean may have a permanent home.
“If I stutter it's because I’m so excited," president of the center Della Moore said. She's been working on this project since 2010.
“When I saw it I was like wow. You mean this is for us," she said.
Moore’s African American Cultural Center has had many homes, but none quite like its North Barry Street location. The building was donated to Moore by a family friend.
“I can tell you the date. That was July 20, 2020," she said. "We haven’t looked back since.”
The new center will make room for theater productions, a research area, a children’s room and so much more.
“We’re going to have a commercial kitchen, and I think that’s going to be the money maker," Moore added.
But more importantly, the building will celebrate all things Black, including Olean's very own Black history.
“Olean was a perfect place for Underground Railroad travelers to go through here up to Buffalo [or] through here and up [to] Canada. Many people who came here via the Underground Railroad have stayed," Moore said.
And while Black people only make up around 3.5 percent of Olean’s population, Moore believes their history still deserves to be heard.
“Because how can you know someone if you don't respect their history,” she said. She’s hoping to have the entire building renovated by the end of this year.
"It’s beautiful seeing the transition," she said. "Slowly but surely.”
While Moore has received a grant to help with renovations, she is seeking donations. Anyone interested in donating to the center can donate on her website or mail donations to the African American Center for Cultural Development, Box 240, Olean NY 14760.