Learn Beaufort’s Black History atop a Double Decker Bus
As part of the Beaufort Historic Site’s Living History Series, Beaufort native, Curtis Oden will narrate a special English Double Decker Bus Tour about black history in Beaufort, N.C. This informative historic bus tour will cover over 25 sites and will take off from the Beaufort Historic Site at 130 Turner St. on June 7, June 14, July 13, and July 24 at 11 a.m. The tour will last about an hour and will cost $15 per person.
The bus will be driven through the streets of downtown Beaufort while Oden points out historic sites such as churches, stores, and residents that have been influential in shaping black history in Beaufort.
One of the very first black-owned stores in the town was a shoe shop that sat next to the Josiah Bell House on Turner St. “It was one of the very first black-owned shoe shops and it was run by Mr. Adam Wright and also my great grandfather, Collins Oden, and then later my great uncle Curtis Oden was the one who ran it,” Oden said.
Oden’s relatives were not the only black-owned businesses in the area. Just down the road on Front St. was a blacksmith shop that was owned by a man named Mr. Fisher. On that same street was the Sam Lipman Convenience Store and it sat directly where the First Citizens Bank ATM is now.
While Oden will point out many older historic areas, he also will show you some of the places he grew up visiting such as the Purvis Chapel A.M.E. Zion Methodist Church and the old location of The Beaufort Theater.
“During the 50’s and 60’s my friends and I would go to the Beaufort Theater, and see then it was whites would sit on the main level and the blacks would have to set in the balcony, but it was always okay, we would make jokes about how we really had the best seats in the house!” Oden said. “I grew up and was baptized at the Methodist Church (Purvis Church) and that is where blacks and whites would worship together, there it was also white people on the main level and blacks in the balcony.”
No stranger to the community, Oden said he is excited to come back and narrate this tour for Beaufort and all of its residents and visitors. He said one of his favorite things about doing the tour is getting to talk about all that Beaufort used to be and what it has become to all of the tour groups. “I like getting to see the people’s excitement about the things I am telling them about Beaufort,” Oden said, “Getting to have had grown up in the community and being able to do this tour and talk about some of the stuff I grew up with has been one of my favorite things.”
For information on this and other Living History Programs, stop by the Beaufort Historic Site Welcome Center at 130 Turner Street, call 252-728-5225 or visit www.beauforthistoricsite.org for a full calendar of events.