Promise Land Heritage Association
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4324 Hwy 48 N.
Charlotte, TN 37036
Organization Details



To preserve and interpret the Historic Promise Land Site and to implement interpretative programs specific to the Promise Land Community and the African American cultural experience in general.


The Promise Land Heritage Association (PLHA) was chartered in 1988 as the Promise Land Community Club. It was the result of a need identified by a group of residents and former residents when they came together for a community reunion in 1986. The group recognized that the two remaining icons of this community settled by African-Americans during the Reconstruction era was in serious disrepair. The icons were the Promise Land School building which had been closed as a school since 1957 and the St. John United Methodist Church. At the time the church still functioned as a church but the membership had diminished to only five women. Built in the early 1880s, the school after closing was deeded back to the community by the Board of Education. It had served as a community center. As the children of the community grew up and moved away and the husbands of the women left in the community had died, there was little use for the school building accept for the infrequent reunions. The mission of the PLHA was to restore the buildings and to preserve the history and legacy of the community. Restoration efforts consisted of repairing the roof of the building, other minor repairs and painting the interior and exterior of the building. However the building remained structurally in disrepair. In 1993, the PLHA was successful in getting a state marker recognizing the significance of the community placed on the grounds of the church. Following this it seemed that the efforts to revitalized the community seemed to wane for a period of a few years. In 2000, the PLHA organized and planned the first Annual Community Festival. This was a reunion event but more importantly it was an attempt to raise public awareness of the historic significance of the community and to enlist the support of the wider community of Dickson County. In 2004, the PLHA was reorganized and membership eligibility is opened the public. In 2006, a Board of Directors was established. In 2007, the PLCC became a 501c-3 organization. That same year, the school building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and major restoration of the building was undertaken. A Dickson County architect designed a plan for restoration with an estimated cost. A federal grant was applied for but was denied. Restoration has been funded primarily from membership dues, donations, and fundraising. The restoration is 85% complete at a cost of $21,950.


List of top accomplishments for 2022. 1. March 2022, PLHA received Award of Excellence for the 2021 Festival , from Tennessee Association of Museums. 2. Awarded Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition for July 1-August 13, 2023. 3. Awarded Tennessee Arts Commission Program Grant of $16,560 for 2022 Festival. 4. Awarded Grant from Tennessee historical Commission for repair of windows and doors in museum. 5. Awarded Jackson Foundation grant of $5,000 for Genealogy Workshop. 6. Awarded $1,800 grant from TN Library & Archives for laptop, printer & software. 7. Awarded grant for $4,000 from Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee for creation of documentary to accompany the Smithsonian Exhibition, "Voices & Votes".
Management Achievements: 1. Raised funding needed to start church restoration project. 2. Signed contract with construction for church restoration. 3. Recruited and appointed a construction project manager for church restoration.
Programs and Events Achievements: 1. Hosted 5 scheduled tours and 3 unscheduled site tours. 2. Hosted Annual Music and Arts Festival June 3-5, 2022. 3. Hosted Annual Fall Fest on October 15, 2022. 4. Hosted Annual Mix and Mingle November 17. 2022. 5. Hosted Christmas Giveaway for Children on December 17, 2022.


The organization's greatest need is funding for capacity building including, staff for management, administrative, bookkeeping and clerical services. In order to successfully grow and expand the PLHA needs to be able to hire qualified personnel. We also need funding to complete church restoration. Inflation for labor and material cost has quickly eroded the funds raised in 2022 and in order to complete the project additional funds are needed.

CEO Statement

In addition to historic preservation, the PLHA offers educational and cultural enrichment programs for the public. We partner with Humanities Tennessee, Tennessee State Museums; Smithsonian Institute; Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History; area colleges and universities to bring scholars, authors and exhibitions to our rural community to offer enriching conversations and education. We also offer programs relative to African-American history for elementary and high school students. This includes custom designed tours and activities which match the Tennessee educational standards for the study of slavery, emancipation and reconstruction. The PLHA also offers programs to support the educational endeavors of youth through our partnership with the Community Resource Center, a non-profit charitable program the provides bookbags, school supplies and clothing. We encourage youth involvement with the historic site by including their participation as performers, volunteers and spectators in events such as the annual festival. We have hosted art workshops and video nights at the site designed specifically for youth. The Promise Land Festival help to further our community service objectives. Free health screening and information are offered by participating health organizations. In addition to this, the PLHA has worked with the Health Department in coordinating a site for Flu shots for residents of the North end of the county; provided gifts to area nursing home residents; provided assistance to individual faced with financial or health crisis; provided textbook stipends for college students; participated in the Dickson County ACS Chapter's Annual Cancer Crusade and other such activities. Since 2010, the historic site has served the public as a museum which opened by appointment. The historic school is restored to appear as it would have during the early 1900s. It is appointed with furnishings as they would have been during that period in history with handmade wooden benches for students, handmade teacher's desk and blackboard. Visitors are able to experience a living history tour. This experience is enhanced by re-enactors who portrays early teachers and early community settlers. Included in the tour is the nearby church, a Tennessee Historical Marker and a Civil War Trails Marker. Each year the number of visitors to the site have grown.

Board Chair Statement

It is a privilege to serve as Chairman of the inaugural 15 member Board of Directors of the PLHA. As a descendant of original settlers and as a former resident of the community, I am honored, yet humbled to serve. Like most organizations the PLHA has it's challenges and successes. Among the organizations successes are the following: listing of the Promise Land School building on the National Register of Historic Places; installation of a Civil War Trails Marker in the community, recognizing it's significance during this era in history; planning and executing 10 successful annual festivals (these festivals have become a popular county event gaining support of many county and state agencies, businesses and organizations); acquiring a 20X70 modular classroom building to be used as an onsite expansion facility; and the near completion of the restoration of the historic school building. With the accomplishments our organization has also faced challenges. While we have had success in gaining federal, state and corporate support for programs like the festival, we have not been as successful in receiving grant support for the restoration project. Major restoration of the school began in 2007. Funding for this project has come primarily from membership dues and gifts as well as donations and private contributions. Due to lack of funds we have periodically had to discontinue work while we replenished our treasury. This has prolonged restoration of the property. PLHA membership fluctuate from year to year between 15 to 55 members. The dues are $25 per year. Adult Board members are required to pay an annual minimum assessment of $100. Most pay more than the minimum. In 2010, the Membership Committee established a life membership category of $500. To date 30 have become life members. Membership giving is exceptional especially so when it comes to in-kind and volunteer services. However, we are concerned that membership retention and recruitment is not precluded by our financial needs. This leads to the challenge of member retention as well as diversity. The charter members of the PLHA were descendants of original settlers of the community. Membership eligibility has evolved to include the general public. Currently, only 5% of the members are Caucasian. Fewer fall in the age range of 15 to 30 years of age. We have put a number of activities in place to increase diversity. There is a membership booth set up at the very public annual festival where information and application are made available. We have had some success in recruitment at the festival and we will be working to make our festival exhibit more visible. Our official brochure also include membership information. For youth recruitment we have instituted the Annual Youth Day; art enrichment program; The Promise Land Heritage Award recognizes youth between the ages of 13 to 19 and are descendants of original settlers, for outstanding achievements; and we offer reduced dues and Board representation of youth members. Based on our past successes and accomplishments, we will continue to move forward and approach challenges with optimism. We look forward to meeting our goals as well as, to further growth and development of the PLHA

Service Categories

Primary Category: Arts, Culture & Humanities  - Cultural & Ethnic Awareness 
Secondary Category: Human Services  -  
Tertiary Category: Education  -  

Areas Served

The Promise Land Heritage Association is located in Dickson County in the City of Charlotte. The Promise Land Historic Site is located on Promise Land Road. The primary zip codes served include the following: 37036, 37051, 37055 and 37056. Educational programs, museum tours, and annual festivals attract visitors from across Middle Tennessee.

TN - Dickson