One Street in Lynchburg Home to Two New Historical Markers

Reporter: Parker Slaybaugh

Lynchburg, VA-Lynchburg is now home to two new historical markers. Historical markers are reserved to commemorate people, places, or events of great significance.

Pierce Street has long been regarded as a centerpiece for the efforts of desegregation. Saturday, the Pierce Street community gathered to celebrate two men who were leaders in the fight for equality.

You may look and see just an old boarded up house. But the history that still resides there is unforgettable.

"We all wonder how history has come this far in our lifetime," said Madalin Price, the granddaughter of Professor Frank Trigg.

Professor Trigg retired into the house in 1926. A former slave, Trigg made sure slavery wouldn't define him. He went on to be president of three colleges in three different states, and was a mentor to thousands.

"He was eighty-some years old, no wonder people still remember his name," said Price.

But the story of the house doesn't stop with Professor Trigg. Where his story ends, Dr. Robert Johnson's story begins. After Professor Trigg's death in 1933, his family sold the house and property to Dr. Johnson. He then put in a tennis court, and went on to train tennis champions such as Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe."

Dr. Johnson was a leader in the efforts to desegregate the sport of tennis, running a program to teach African American youth the game. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009.

One of Dr. Johnson's standouts was Lendward Simpson. He competed in Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

"Dr. Johnson was truly my hero," said Simpson.

"This is my first time back since 1968 that I have stood on what I call hallowed ground," he said.

The organizer of Saturday's event says it is a very rare thing for two signs to mark the same location. She also says it's even more uncommon that the signs commemorate two unrelated men. These two signs will now make four historical markers all together on Pierce Street.