Bird-Brady House, Camp Hill, Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, WV
Significance: Built between 1895 and 1897, the Bird-Brady House served as a private residence for teachers and families associated with Storer College, a historically black school founded in 1867 by missionaries of the Freewill Baptist Church. Though spatially linked to the school for most of its history, architecturally the building presented a living space separate from the school's academic buildings and dormitories and embraced the natural setting of area. Early occupants of the house included members of the Lightner and Newcomer families, descendents of Storer College founder, Reverend Nathan C. Brackett. The building's namesake occupants, Elizabeth Bird and Mabel Brady, were sisters and both graduates of Storer who later worked there in administrative capacities in the 1940s and 1950s.
The change in ownership of the Bird-Brady House, from white families associated with the founding of the school to two African American women, is reflective of significant changes throughout the Storer College campus in the mid-twentieth century. From the mid 1940s until the school closed in 1955, African Americans began assuming a more active role in how the school was being administrated. Declining numbers of Freewill Baptists combined with the ambitions of African American educators to take more control in guiding the daily activities of the school substantially altered the academic and racial landscape of the college. The Bird-Brady House helps convey the history of domestic life for faculty members at Storer College and the changing roles African Americans played in affecting academic education at the school.
After the National Park Service acquired the property in 1962, Elizabeth Bird and Mabel Brady remained in the house as lessees until at least 1970, the year that renovations began. In spite of being converted from domestic use to office space, the National Park Service has continued to recognize the building as the Bird-Brady House.
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N1590
Survey number: HABS WV-304
Building/structure dates: after. 1894- before. 1898 Initial Construction