Maggie L. Walker Home
The Maggie L. Walker Home is a National Historic Landmark that features a visitor’s center and exhibits within Mrs. Walker’s home. The home includes many of its original furnishings as well as exhibits that share the history of Maggie Walker's life as a renowned educator, civil rights activist, and entrepreneur. It is located inside the Jackson Ward District of Richmond, a neighborhood that is sometimes referred to as "the birthplace of black capitalism." Walker's home was one of the hubs of the business community. She chartered a bank, established a newspaper, and ran a successful store in Richmond.
Backstory and Context
Maggie Lena Mitchell was born in Richmond, VA on July 15, 1867. Her mother, a former-slave, worked for Elizabeth Van Lew, a Civil War spy for the Federals. Young Mitchell and her family grew up in the Church Hill Mansion for the Van Lewis.
As a teenager young Mitchell joined the Independent Order of St. Luke, a fraternal burial society that helped the sick and elderly in the Richmond community. Her teenage years up to 1886 were spent as an educator in a Richmond public school. She married Armstead Walker in 1886. Unfortunately, a Virginia State Law at the time barred married women from teaching school and she had to resign from her position.
She worked her way up in the Order of St. Luke and soon had reached the high title of “Right Worthy Grand Secretary” in the organization in 1899. In 1902 Walker established her own newspaper, “The Saint Luke Herald.” Just a year later in 1903 Mrs. Walker chartered the first female African-American savings institution in the US called the St. Luke Penny Savings Bank.
Throughout this time Maggie Walker served on the board of trustees of many influential organizations: National Association of Colored Women, Virginia Industrial School for Girls, and the Virginia Interracial Commission. She was served as vice president of the NAACP local affiliate in Richmond.