Community Arts & Culture

Hargraves History Panel I

What is this mural about?

This mural represents the history of the Negro Navy Band and how they impacted construction of the Hargraves center. Construction on the center began on January 9, 1941, only to be halted in May by the onset of WWII. Construction resumed in 1942 in order to house the Negro Navy Band when the Navy Preflight School was located on the campus of UNC. Due to segregation, the Negro Navy Band was not allowed to be housed with the rest of the School and was relocated to the Robeson Street Center. The Town Council and other influential citizens successfully negotiated with the Secretary of the Navy to finish the construction of the Center in exchange for housing.

Initially, the center was called the Negro Community Center. Later, it became known as the Robeson Street Center and then was renamed in 1973 for William M. Hargraves, a former Parks and Recreation Commission member who died in an auto accident. William Hargraves was a charismatic leader in the community and helped implement many programs for the community at the Center.

The first paid director of the Negro Community Center was Lucille Caldwell, who is depicted in the center of the mural. She was hired in February of 1951 and served for 12 years. Ms. Caldwell was also the first African American professional recreation administrator in NC.

The Center’s current director, Nate Davis is depicted in the lower right portion of the canvas. Mr. Davis has worked at the Center for over 30 years and has been surrogate father to many children who use the center. He is pictured with other key individuals during the Center’s history.

(Right to left) Nate Davis, current Director; Clifton Eubanks, Maintenance Supervisor and Program Assistant from 1968 – 1993; Fred Battle, Hargraves Center Director from 1970 – 1989. Mr. Battle was responsible developing a number of recreational programs that are still in existence at the Hargraves Center, Ebony Dancers, Outdoor Summer Basketball League and The Family Fun Day; and Hank Anderson, Hargraves Center Director and Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Director from 1969 – 1977.

A History of the Hargraves Center

“Birthed from the collective labour of Chapel Hill’s hardworking black community, the center has grown from one, lone-standing brick building which served as a recreational outlet for Chapel Hill’s black youth, to a place where all community members can enjoy tennis, baseball, workshops, dance classes, and affordable, quality childcare.”—David Wilson, Artist

The Hargraves community center was constructed in 1941. The murals, a more recent addition, were completed in 2004 by Durham artist, David Wilson.

The Hargraves Center murals showcase a history of the Center’s community and political leaders, its central role in the Northside neighborhood, and its significance as the first social and recreational facility for African-Americans in Chapel Hill. They depict essential figures to Chapel Hill’s rich history; like Ms. Rebecca Clark, Mildred “Mama Dip” Council, Glenda Hargraves, Fred Battle and Nate Davis. Also included are community rock masons Willis and Alfred Barbee; Ms. Lucille Caldwell, the Center’s first paid director and the first black professional recreation administrator in NC; William Hargraves, former Parks and Recreation Commission member who spearheaded many of the wonderful programs available to the community today; Mr. Adolphus Clark and Ms. Cornelia Spencer Love, who made financial and organizational contributions to beautiful pool; and Ms. Sally Pendergraft, who dedicated herself to caring for the youth of the community through Holmes Day Care.

Want to see more of the murals? Check out the ones mounted at the adjoining AD Clark Pool, the Hargraves Daycare Center, or the Northside gymnasium!

A picture of this mural halfway through completion:

History I

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