Dr. Leslie Pinckney Hill
In 1917. Dr. Leslie Pinckney Hill, President of Cheyney State Teacher’s College (presently, Cheyney University), envisioned a community-based institution that helps address the unmet needs of citizens who were traditionally marginalized by and disenfranchised from society on account of their economic status, gender, or race.
The guiding principle of Dr. Hill’s visionary idea was to foster and promote a greater understanding among and cooperation between all citizens through education. On August 2, 1918, Dr. Hill’s vision became a reality with the official adoption of the West Chester Community Center’s articles of incorporation Center. In 1934, the “Center Committee” broke ground in the heart of the Borough of West Chester. A brand new building was constructed at 501 E. Miner Street.
Charles A. Melton
Charles A. Melton was an activist and executive director of the West Chester Community Center from 1966 to 1980. He was always a leading citizen of West Chester. Mr. Melton was a teacher, coach, counselor, disciplinarian and friend to many, many young people. He was a spokesman for the African American Community on many critical issues involving race relations during the difficult times of the 1940’s through the 1970’s.
Mr. Melton helped shape the black community who were shut out from any kind of social activity in the Borough of West Chester. According to the Daily Local News in 1987, “he fought long and hard to make the borough and the county a better place to live for African Americans, and he would not back down from his stance, even when threatened.” In the early 1960’s he became involved in the Civil Rights movement. He had long talks about Civil Rights with his childhood friend, Bayard Rustin. ” In the 196o’s he organized many protests against discrimination.
Charles received a distinguished Service Award from Cheyney University in 1977. The citation read: “To an upright and fearless man, who, time and time again, had the courage to stand up for all equal rights for all Americans.” He was all of that, and more!
On August 14, 2004, the West Chester Community was renamed to the Charles A. Melton Arts and Education Center in a formal ceremony to honor and pay tribute to the invaluable contributions that Mr. Melton made to the community of West Chester.
From yesterday to today to tomorrow
Our guiding principle was, is and always will be the same – promote understanding and cooperation between all people. The Melton Center is the center for personal, professional, cultural, and spiritual growth for the entire community. Ownership and pride have been the fuel that has kept the fire burning at “The Center” for decades. Our work now has the Goal of instilling those values into a new generation.
The Mission of the historic Charles A Melton Arts and Education Center is to contribute to the quality of life for all people of the greater West Chester community by continuing its long commitment of providing educational, recreational, cultural and civic services.
Executive Director – Ken Winston
Board of Directors
Officers:Lisa Dorsey – President Koreem Bell – Vice President – Secretary
Paul Woodburn – Treasurer Members: Valen Cianci, CPA Hester Davenport Irv Friedlander Evelyn Fowlkes Betty Jean Newsome Tyrone Richardson Mark Stevens Alice Thomas John Turgeon José Geigel Advisory Board: Sam Stretton (Legal Counsel) Sarah McDonald Office Staff Renee Washington – Rentals Manager Sarah Kelshaw – Office Manager Partners: West Chester Area School District West Chester Business Improvement District Jimmy Davis Catering Willistown Conservation Trust Chester County Food Bank Communities that Care Captain Levi M. Hood Lodge #159 Fennario’s Coffee Pita Pit Lorenzos Steaks 21 Square Club Chester County Music Moody’s Foundation Vanguard West Chester Recreation Dept. West Chester Sport & Social Club Jazzercise United Way of Chester County West Chester University Lincoln University Cheyney University Best Buy Elm Street Project Comcast Centocor