In 1843, Leverett C. Beman bought a house on the corner of Cross and Vine Streets (around the spot where Neon Deli now stands) and commissioned a survey of what we now call the Beman Triangle—the land between Vine, Cross, and Knowles Streets.
Leverett was the son of Jehiel Beman, pastor of the Cross Street A.M.E. Zion Church, built in 1830 and one of the first A.M.E. Zion churches in the country. Members of the Church bought or built houses on lots in the Triangle purchased from Leverett. Over the next forty years, the African Americans living there developed a stable community, with most of them paying off their mortgages. They, and the Church, were active in the Underground Railroad, and three men from the neighborhood served in the Civil War. By the turn of the twentieth century the composition of the neighborhood was changing as many African Americans left Middletown. The Triangle retained its centrality to the A.M.E. Zion community with the re-location of the church itself from the top of Cross Street, near where the Exley Science Center now stands, to the Triangle in 1929.
Today the Beman Triangle site is on the State Register of Historic Places, to recognize the accomplishments of the former residents of the Beman Triangle and the importance of their place in local, state and national history. Test excavations at the site have already demonstrated the potential of archaeology to bring to light the artifacts of daily life for former Beman Triangle residents. This spring, a community archaeology project began, aimed at bringing together the Wesleyan, A.M.E. Zion, and wider Middletown communities to explore and remember the history of life at the site.
A walking tour of the Beman triangle will be given immediately after the seminar.
Presented by Professor Sarah Croucher, Assistant professor of anthropology, archaeology, and feminist, gender & sexuality studies, Jesse Nasta ’07, Reverend Moses L. Harvill, pastor of the Cross Street A.M.E. Zion Church in Middletown, and Mardi Loman, a local historian.