Parkersburg native to publish book series on Sumner School

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - An Ohio University administrator is hoping to keep alive the legacy of a historic site in Parkersburg.

Dr. Michael Rice, the assistant director of admissions and recruitment at Ohio University's Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, is in the process of writing the first of several books about the Sumner School in Parkersburg.

The school was the first free school for black students south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Rice, a native of Parkersburg, started brainstorming the project almost 3 years ago but didn't really start working on it until late last year.

The first book, entitled "The Sumner 7," will focus on the seven men responsible for establishing the school back in the early 1860s. During his research, Rice learned that the school's founders received death threats prior to starting the school. The book will feature various articles and literature related to the school.

During his childhood, Rice said he was aware of the building's history but did not really understand the magnitude of its legacy until he started his research.

He hopes his books provide an insight into the local landmark.

"This is part of our legacy it needs to be preserved and we need to do what we can to help the Sumnerite alumni board association to preserve and to resurrect this structure," Rice said.

"The Sumner 7" is expected to be released in the spring of 2018.

Rice is not sure how many books will be in the series but plans to at least have two.

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