5 things to know about the Highlander Center fire

The Highlander Center in New Market lost its main office and part of its archive, which included documents from the Civil Rights era, in a fire Friday.

Here are five things you need to know about the center and the fire.Discover the stories that matter most to you. Support local journalism.
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1. The fire is under investigation

The fire at the center’s main office was reported at around 5:30 a.m. Friday, and the New Market Volunteer Fire Department responded to put out the flames. 

Initially reported as a brush fire, the cause of the blaze is now under investigation by the state fire marshal’s office. NMVFD Capt. Sammy Solomon said the building was equipped with a burglary and fire alarm system, but that it failed to notify E-911.

2. The office is one of 10 buildings

The main office, which was destroyed, was one of 10 buildings on the Highlander Center’s campus, which spans around 200 acres. 

The building stood away from other structures on the property, none of which were damaged in the fire Friday morning. 

4. Only part of the archives were lost

Highlander Center Co-Executive Director Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson said during a Facebook Live video Friday afternoon that the fire had destroyed only part of the center’s archives.

It is not yet clear what was lost, but the fire “destroyed decades of historic documents, speeches, artifacts and memorabilia from movements of all kinds, including the Civil Rights Movement,” Woodard Henderson and co-director Rev. Allyn Maxfield-Steele said in a statement.

5. The center was a civil rights training ground

Civil rights icons, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Congressman John Lewis, studied at the center, which focused on desegregation, organized labor and economic injustice. 

The center is known across the country for its legacy of civic engagement training.

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