Mrs. Ida M. Francis

Known Name(s)

Mrs. Ida M. Francis


252 N. Main Harrisonburg, VA

Establishment Type(s)

Tourist Home

Physical Status


Detailed History

AREA CONTEXT: This was a thriving African American community that was the target of urban renewal in the 1950s and 1960s, when the City’s urban planners had to convince the City that there were “slums” and “blight” in the City. Harrisonburg’s housing authority was established in 1955 for the sole purpose of executing urban renewal, and razed much of this northeast area to build what now are large surface parking lots and businesses.

There were two phases of this urban renewal project: R-4, which was approximately 32.5 acres, and R-16, which was approximately 7.5 acres. The properties at N Main Street, Federal Street, and Wolfe Street would have been included within the R-16 project, and no longer exist. Mrs. Ida M Francis’ home on Mason Street remains today because Mason Street was the boundary of the urban renewal project. The Mrs. Ida M. Francis tourist home was listed here, at 252 N. Main Street, in the Green Book from 1954 - 1956. However, Mark Metzler Sawin has determined that this address was incorrect. From 1957 - 1962, she listed her tourist home at 252 N. Mason Street. This site on N. Main appears to have been located on adjacent property in what is now the parking lot between a pawn shop and a Catholic Church building. It was likely a commercial use, as N. Main is Harrisonburg's historic commercial corridor. Harrisonburg local sources do not have information on this particular property.

Research and photo by Caroline Vanterve, with many thanks to Robin Lyttle and Sharon Barber with the Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Alliance.

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