Berglund Center Historian in Residence

Neighborhood historian Jordan Bell is the 2022-23 Berglund Center Artist in Residence.

Jordan Bell is a father, historian, mentor, camp director, and neighborhood activist. Bell is a member of Gainsborough Southwest Neighborhood Organization. His passion is recording the oral and written history of elders within the Gainsboro community. He has interviewed current Gainsboro residents who grew up with the influential Roanoke leaders like Dr. Isaac Burrell, founder of Burrell Hospital, Edward Dudley, the first Black US Ambassador, Oliver White Hill, Sr., Civil Rights Attorney, Lucy Addison-Teacher and Principal, Virginia Y. Lee, Gainsboro Branch Librarian and Dr. John C. Claytor, who built an entire block of businesses in the Gainsboro Neighborhood. 

Jordan shares all of this information through his Gainsboro Revisited tour, fieldtrips, and through service projects. Many people who attend the tours have no idea how destructive federal policies like urban renewal demolished 1,600 Roanoke homes, 200 businesses and 24 churches in the once economically and culturally thriving African-American neighborhood known as Gainsboro.

Jordan is working with Berglund Center in partnership with artist Bryce Cobbs and the son of the late artist David L. Ramey in more meaningfully connecting the Berglund Center property developed through urban renewal with the history and neighborhood supplanted by it and surrounding it.