Located on the campus of Wilberforce University, just north of Xenia, is the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center. The museum was designed to educate the public about African-American history and culture with African origins up through the present using a variety of programs housed in the museum.
The museum has a number of permanent exhibits including "From Victory to Freedom" but also installs featured exhibits with a shorter display time.
At one time there was a natural spring that was said to have recuperative powers. In the 1850s, Elias Drake purchased the land and developed a health resort here. Folks travelled from afar for the healing springs. In time, the resort became a popular spot for visiting plantation owners from the south. Even though the area was predominately anti-slavery, the southern farmers would often bring numbers of their personal slaves to help with the journey and attend to their needs while staying at the resort.
In 1855, the Methodist Episcopal Church purchased the resort and 54 acres surrounding it. Once this was completed, they established a university specifically for African Americans. Wilberforce University was founded the following year, making it the nation's oldest private historically African American institution of higher education. The hotel and resort were converted into classrooms and dormitories. They named the university for the British abolitionist William Wilberforce who led a movement in the British Empire to abolish the slave trade.
Over the ensuing years, the area became a popular destination for freed slaves as well as a popular spot on the Underground Railroad. In 1862, the new university was purchased by Bishop Daniel Payne on behalf of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, making Payne the first African American to lead a university.
Today, Wilberforce University continues to build on its long tradition. It is a four-year, fully accredited liberal arts institution offering some 20 fully accredited liberal arts concentrations to students in business, communications, computing and engineering sciences, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. It offers dual degree programs in architecture, aerospace, and nuclear engineering in conjunction with the University of Cincinnati.