The Zion Union Heritage Museum celebrates the proud history of African-Americans, Cape Verdeans and the Wampanoag people of Cape Cod, as well as groups that arrived here more recently from Brazil and the Caribbean.
In 2007, with the help of Harold Tobey, (the first black Police Officer and Chairman of the Barnstable Town Council) the old historic Church became a Museum funded by the Lyndon Paul LoRusso Foundation, and with the help of the Town of Barnstable Community Preservation Committee. Harold became the first president of this Museum. John Reed (a community activist and retired History teacher) is the current president.
In the display cases you will find the history of many local Cape Codders whose contributions to the community would be lost if it were not for this Museum. Also featured are artifacts pertaining to the Cape Verdean cranberry and whaling industries.
Delores DaLuz, the Museum historian, has chronicled a history book, a collection of newspaper articles collected over the years when her husband, Joe DaLuz was president of the local NAACP and the Building Commissioner for the town of Barnstable for 20 years.
The Zion Union Heritage Museum has a large collection of art. Resident artist, Robin Joyce Miller (a retired N.Y. Art teacher) chronicles the life of African-Americans from Slavery, the “Middle Passage” to the inauguration of our first black President, Barack Obama.
Carl Lopes (retired, Head of the Art Dept. Barnstable High School) has created striking contemporary art work inspired by African masks and shields.
Pamela Chatterton-Purdy (a retired art teacher) has created Icons of the Civil Rights Movement, a collection of over 30 portraits and events of the “movement”. Her husband Rev. Dr. David Purdy, researched and wrote the text that accompany each of the icons.
Throughout the year the Museum features other artists, authors and film series.
This original Chapel was established because of a woman named Mrs. Anderson. She was, at first, welcomed by The First Baptist Church in Hyannis but then discouraged by some who felt she would be “happier with her own kind.” She stopped attending Church and this was noticed by a lay leader, Mr. William Drew, who paid her a visit. When she refused to return to that Church, Mr. Drew decided that he would buy land and build a Church for Mrs. Anderson and her friends. The Zion Union Mission was founded in 1909 by William Drew, Elijah Richardson and Hamilton Jackson.
Mr. Drew served as the mission’s first pastor until his tragic death in a railway accident. Visiting pastors filled the pulpit for some time. In the early days it was a summer Church serving many domestic workers.
In the 1930’s and 1940’s interest declined and it was not possible to pay a pastor’s salary. Mrs. Harriet Grace, better known as “Ma” Grace tried to keep the mission open serving as pastor. Not accepted as a woman pastor, she contacted Rev. Charles Thornhill of Cambridge. He kept the mission open for a while but due to the lack of funds, submitted his resignation. “Ma” Grace brought in more guest preachers desperate to keep the doors open.
In June of 1955 “Ma” Grace wrote to the Zion Bible Institute in hopes of finding a new minister. Paul Rodrigues of Brockton, a graduate of that Institute and, at the time, an assistant pastor at the Portuguese Nazarene Church in New Bedford, Mass. became pastor. His ministry was so successful that in 1962 the mission took the legal steps to become The Zion Union Church. The congregation outgrew the building and built a new Church on Crispus Attucks Way in Hyannis.