THE MOTON CENTER
Holly Knoll at Cappahosic is the Georgian Style retirement home of the late Dr. Robert Russa Moton. Located in Gloucester County, Virginia, the elegant manor house overlooks the York River.
Holly Knoll is listed on both the Virginia and the National Historic registries. But even this prestigious recognition cannot begin to attest to the great historical significance of Holly Knoll to the African American community.
In 1935 Dr. Moton retired and Holly Knoll began its long history of welcoming leaders of the African American political, intellectual, and entertainment community. During Dr. Moton’s time, guests would be summoned by elegantly engraved invitations that simply read, “Come to Cappahosic.”
At Holly Knoll everyone, regardless of philosophical leaning, was treated as equals. Any idea offered with the sincere mission of improving the lives of African Americans would be considered.
After Dr. Moton’s death in 1940, his son-in-law Frederick Patterson established the Moton Conference Center to continue Dr. Moton’s work in education. Under Patterson Holly Knoll was expanded into a full conference center by adding residential space and training facilities.
Holly Knoll continued to be the seat of social change in the black community. During the 1950s and 60s plans were made for the economic development of historically black colleges and universities, while a “think tank” continued from Dr. Moton’s days on social justice and other issues.
The United Negro College Fund was conceived at Holly Knoll and Dr. Patterson became the first UNCF President. At Holly Knoll, strategies were planned for the desegregation of lunch counters. On a bench under the 400-year-old live oak, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is said to have drafted portions of the “I Have a Dream” speech.
The Gloucester Institute purchased Holly Knoll in 2005 to serve as the home for its five major programs. Gloucester immediately set out on a $1.8 million dollar effort to renovate and restore Holly Knoll and the Moton Conference Center.