9th West 57 Street, New York, NY 10019
For Immediate Release
Date: June 25, 2002
Museum Named for Reginald F. Lewis
Foundation donates $5 Million
Baltimore, MD - A packed room of legislators, educators, attorneys, advocates, onlookers,
and family members of the late philanthropist, entrepreneur, and Wall Street Lawyer
Reginald F. Lewis were on hand recently when the Maryland Board of Public Works
approved the addition of Reginald F. Lewis’ name to the planned Maryland Museum of
African-American History and Culture.
Slated for completion in 2004, plans call for the 82,000 square foot museum to be built
near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor using a combination of state and private funds. The five
million dollar grant from an African American to an African American Museum will
be a part of the museum’s endowment. Beverly A. Cooper, Vice-President of the Lewis
Foundation and Lewis’ aunt, says, “An African-American museum of history and culture
is one of the projects with which he wanted to be involved.” Museum board chairman
George L. Russell, Jr., himself a trail blazing attorney, said the contribution will have a
tremendously positive impact on additional museum fundraising.
“It is going to be very encouraging to the business community says Russell, who is
working closely with museum Fundraising and Development Chairman Louis J.
Grasmick to raise a $20 Million endowment. It is very fitting to name the museum after
Mr. Lewis, “an east Baltimorean who pursued excellence concludes Russell.
The museum is an historic first and “will build in all children an appreciation of the
contribution of the African-American to our nation’s history and culture” says Nancy
Grasmick, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools. She points out that the museum’s
exhibits will be linked to school curricula, teaching African-American history in every
public school in the state. The museum’s curricula according to Grasmick, will also
“focus on providing after-school and weekend activities to at-risk children in Baltimore’s
Architectural plans call for the museum to have an interactive learning environment, a
two-story theater, an information resource center, an oral history listening and
recording studio, museum shop, meeting rooms, and exhibition space. Legislation for
state support of the museum was ushered through the Maryland House of Delegates by
Delegate Hattie Hairston-who once taught Lewis at Dunbar High School-and Delegate
Howard P. Rawlings.
Loida Nicholas Lewis, widow of Mr. Lewis and Chairman of the Foundation Board, says
she is hopeful that visitors to the museum and students in schools will learn and be
inspired by achievements of those showcased in the facility. Mrs. Lewis takes particular
pride in knowing that the museum will bear her late husband’s name, noting that “it
keeps his name and legacy alive in his hometown and across the nation.”
Reginald F. Lewis was born in Baltimore, educated by the Oblate Sisters of Providence
in grade school and attended Dunbar High School. A graduate of Virginia State
University and Harvard Law, he had a keen eye for business. Within two years of
graduating from law school, Lewis founded his own law firm on New York’s prestigious
Wall Street. In 1983 he formed his own investment firm, TLC Group LP, and purchased
the McCall Pattern Company. In 1987, just months after selling McCall for a ninety-to-
one return, he acquired the international division of Beatrice Foods, a $2 billion food
conglomerate with 64 companies in 31 different countries.
A noted philanthropist whose motto was “keep going no matter what,” Lewis donated
more than $12 million to numerous charities, including a $1 million unsolicited gift to
Howard University and $3 million to Harvard Law School. Harvard named its
International Law Center for Lewis, the first such honor given to an African-American
by an Ivy League school. Lewis died in 1993 at age 50.
The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation, based in New York City, was created by Lewis in
order to “support organizations that are doing good work, especially in the areas of
children’s programs and education.” In addition to Mrs. Lewis and Ms. Cooper, Leslie
Lewis-Sword and Christina S. N. Lewis (daughters) and Anthony S. Fugett (brother) are
members of the Foundation board of directors. Carolyn E. Fugett, the mother of Mr.
Lewis, serves as an advisor to the Foundation.