Five years ago, Kisha Davis and her brother, Jason Green, sat down with their grandmother, Pearl Green, to talk about the past. Mrs. Green, who will celebrate 100 years in June, was 95 at the time—and her grandchildren wanted to learn all they could from their grandmother’s memories of a lifetime in the Quince Orchard area where Davis, a physician, and Green, an attorney, were born and raised.
For many years, Quince Orchard, a small farm town, was a racially segregated microcosm of the larger society. Home to black families like the Greens as well as white families, Quince Orchard first appeared on maps, according to Davis and Green, before the Civil War.
The more they learned about the history of Quince Orchard and its people, black and white, the more stories they found that needed to be recorded and told, Davis said. Although neither Davis nor her brother were filmmakers, they soon began work as co-producers of a film documentary, working title: “The Quince Orchard Project.”
Central to the film is the creation, in the mid-1960s, of Fairhaven United Methodist Church, located on Darnestown Road and west of Quince Orchard Road. A merger of two historically white Methodist congregations and one black Methodist church, the creation of Fairhaven is a powerful story of how members of the racially segregated Quince Orchard community, including Pearl Green, intentionally put differences aside to come together, Davis said. And it was a difficult time, a time when in many places, including the District of Columbia, the line between black and white communities was ablaze with racial strife.
On April 8, Davis and Green presented excerpts of the documentary to an enthusiastic audience at Fairhaven Church. They said the film will be entered in a film festival in coming weeks and a premiere date will be announced soon.
To learn more about Quince Orchard history, attend JuneFest on June 23 at the Pleasant View Historic Site, located at 11810 Darnestown Road. The address is the site of the original, historic Pleasant View Church and the historic Quince Orchard Colored School.
Held annually, this year’s JuneFest also celebrates the 150th anniversary of the purchase of the Pleasant View land in 1868. It launches a one-million-dollar capital campaign to restore the buildings and make the space more available and relevant to the public. A committee of local volunteers led by David Blair is spearheading the effort.
For more information, visit thequinceorchardproject.com.