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Heritage Newmarket house to become Black-led community centre

On Sept. 1 the Newmarket African Caribbean Canadian Association takes possession of the historic Quaker Hollingshead House, also known as the Hermit House
Hollingshead House
Historic Hollingshead House will be the site of a new NACCA community centre for Black events, programs and education.

On Sept. 1 the Newmarket African Caribbean Canadian Association (NACCA) will take possession of Newmarket's historic Hollingshead House (also known as the Hermit House) with plans to turn it into a Black-led community centre.

The centre will be the first Black cultural centre in northern York Region.

"This building heralds a next step for NACCA in their foundational work to actively engage in dismantling long-standing and pervasive anti-Black racism structures," said chairperson Jerisha Grant-Hall in a statement.

"NACCA will now have a much needed space which will be an important hub for our diverse Black community. The space will house our offices, a gathering place, a library and much needed Black-centred programming. The centre will also act as a meeting space for residents and friends to enjoy, engage in conversation, forge new friendships and strengthen their sense of belonging in the community.”

A tentative opening date of Oct. 24 has been set and a fundraiser to assist with needed resources to manage ongoing costs for the facility are planned, but details have yet to be announced.

The Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, which provides grants for books and special projects for elementary-aged children across Canada, is assisting with identity-affirming books for the community, as well as a Kuumba Mentorship Love of Reading Program that Grant-Hall said she hopes to launch for younger members.

Blue Ant Media has donated furnishings.

The organization is still in need of stacking chairs, shelving and storage cabinets for the space.

“I am very pleased to support NACCA in their new location and their journey to support the Black community locally and to bring awareness to the broader Newmarket community. NACCA is an emerging leader in dismantling Anti-Black racism and providing culturally relevant services to community members here in Newmarket, Aurora and East Gwillimbury. I want to personally thank Jerisha and NACCA for the work they have done to lead us all in our efforts to become a more inclusive Newmarket,” said Mayor John Taylor in a statement.

The building moved to its current location on Eagle Street in 2006. Built in the 1840s, the Quaker home was declared to be historically and architecturally significant in 2008.