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About Us

March 17, 1953, the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation was created “as a place to awaken people and to have them realize that there is something in the world they can do” in the words of Mrs. Bethune. The headquarters for the Foundation was Mrs. Bethune’s home, which was known as “The Retreat” and was built by an African American builder by the name of Mr. A.B. Raddick around 1905. In 1913 the home was purchased for Mrs. Bethune by Mr. James Norris Gamble, (the chemist who devised the formula for ivory soap), and Mr. Thomas White of White Sewing Machine Company. The home was recognized by the National Park Service as a National Historic Landmark on December 2, 1974. After the 1955 death of Mrs. Bethune “The Retreat” became known as the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation and has since been visited by thousands of visitors each year. During the time that she lived in the home, Mrs. Bethune entertained many famous friends including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Ralph Bunche, Langston Hughes, and Jackie Robinson. Today, tour guides tell the stories of the historic role of what was once called “Bethune Mansion.” All of the artifacts and pieces are original to the home and were the personal belongings of Mrs. Bethune.


Tasha Lucas Youmans
Dean, Library / Chief Librarian

Ebony Sampson-Hilbert
Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation Coordinator

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