NEW YORK - Renovations on Southampton's first and only African American Museum were supposed to be finished in September but clearly that didn't happen. Now Brenda Simmons who is the executive director has made it her mission to make sure it gets done.
“It’s time for us to tell our story and expose the hidden figures and to be counted for the contributions of building this America,” Simmons said.
The original contractor with the lowest bid who was granted the job was more than halfway through the project but officials say his work wasn't up to par. The Town is now in the process of prepping a new bid package to finish the job and the opening has been pushed back indefinitely.
“It's not been easy,” she said. “That's all I can say without breaking down. It's not been easy.”
The building which was designated by the Village 2010 as the first African-American historic landmark holds rich history within the Southampton community.
The first African American community dates back to 1600s.
The once barbershop and beauty parlor was purchased by the Town in partnership with the Village using community preservation funds. Simmons, a Southampton native who is passionate about the project has big plans for it.
“It's going to be a reenactment of a barbershop,” she said. “The history of black barbers and beauticians - it was a gathering place. The importance of voting, education, all of that was shared within the walls.”
While many associate the Hamptons with the rich and famous, Simmons wants visitors of the Museum to learn about African-Americans who made significant contributions to the east end like former slave Pyrrhus Concer.
It's about remembering the past and leaving a legacy for the future.