PULASKI, Va. – Cleaning out closets and basements is not a fun chore for anyone unless you find something astonishing.
The T.G Howard Center recently found a historical treasure that pays homage to the namesake of their mission.
Volunteers spent months cleaning out the T.G. Howard Center to renovate it, with the goal being to create a hub again like it once was for 40 years.
While dusting off dirt to open a door to the Pulaski community, Executive Director Guy Smith ended up opening a closet door to a shocking discovery.
“Lo and behold we ran into some old pictures and we ran into a fairly large frame and turned it over,” Smith said.
It was the diploma of Thomas Greene Howard, the organization’s namesake, from the Christiansburg Institute. The diploma had been wedged in between chairs.
“We were just in shock because one it was in fantastic condition,” Smith said. “We are not even aware if anyone even knew this existed because the building itself was probably shut down for over 12 years.”
Surviving for more than a century, the 1906 diploma was put into a brand-new frame to keep it safe.
T.G. Howard lived in Pulaski for 20 years and is a critical figure to the community.
He spearheaded the creation of a community center to unite African Americans during a time of segregation. Howard did not have any children so his legacy lives on the shoulders of advocates today.
As a team rebuilds life into a building that was built back in the 1960s, the diploma is like a hidden piece of treasure. It serves as a reminder of the legacy that started on the west side of Pulaski and the new legacies that will come.
“It’s nice to have something of this nature to say, ‘Look we understand where we came from and we understand where we are going to go,’” Smith said.
The plan is to temporarily display the diploma at the Christiansburg Institute.