Revisiting history: FMU historic cabins


Photo by: MaKayla O'Neal

The Hewn Timber Cabins located nearby the Village apartments.

FMU Professor Emerita Yvette Hammonds Pierce presented a breakdown of the history and importance of the role of African Americans at Mars Bluff on Jan. 20 in the Chapman Auditorium within the McNair Science Building.   

“In so many instances, the information is secondhand, or it has been retold, so with me trying to do some research, I found out that each one of us has a responsibility to record who we are,” Pierce said. “There needs to be a recording so that future generations will have a better understanding of what happened and why – and not always look or frown upon what happened but to learn from it and to grow.”   

The presentation, titled “A Plantation Economy and African Americans at Mars Bluff: A Brief Historical Perspective,” was a short slideshow summary of a 32-page narrative written by Pierce in 2022.   

On FMU’s campus, there are two hewn timber cabins that were formerly slave quarters. Pierce referred to the cabins throughout her presentation, discussing their history as well as what they represent.   

“The enslaved population built eight hewn timber cabins,” Pierce said. She also said that it is important to keep in mind the fact that, despite them building their own homes, they still could not do so with quality comforts and still had to live in rough conditions.   

Before the eight cabins were built, the enslaved population at Mars Bluff lived in huts, according to Pierce. Today, only two cabins remain, and they are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.   

“I think it’s interesting how [the cabins] used to be in literally the middle of campus but then were kind of moved off to the side – for preservation, I assume,” Morgan O’Melia, a sophomore psychology major, said.   

At the end of Pierce’s presentation, she took questions and statements from the audience of students and community members. A discussion was generated between the older and younger generation involving the question of whose responsibility it is to educate other races and generations on the history of slavery and oppression in America.   

Pierce is a founding member of the FMU African American Faculty and Staff Coalition. She retired as a reference librarian at FMU in 2007. Her complete narrative can be found at: