The facility that we now know as the Ada Jenkins Center has a proud history, which author Nancy Snell Griffith documents in Ada Jenkins: The Heart of the Matter. For thirty years it served, first as the Davidson Colored School and then as the Ada Jenkins Elementary School, as the only school for African Americans in Davidson. As such, it was the center of Davidson's Westside community. Its then housed one of Mecklenburg County's first kindergartens, an integrated program which served hundreds of Davidson five-year-olds. When the kindergarten moved to Davidson Elementary school in the early 1970s, the Ada Jenkins building was used as a recreation center which also offered some social service programs. In 1991, Reverend Robert Shirley of the Davidson Presbyterian Church founded the Ada Jenkins Families and Careers Development Center in the building, and in 1998, spearheaded by Bonnie Brown and fueled by the efforts of hundreds of community and college volunteers, it became the Ada Jenkins Center as we know it today. Over the past thirty years, the center has grown and flourished into a facility that is a vital lifeline for citizens from across northern Mecklenburg County.
Author Nancy Snell Griffith grew up near Pittsburgh, PA and is a graduate of Dickinson College and Syracuse University. Over the course of her career, she has worked as a nursing school librarian, a music librarian, and as the director of archives and special collections at both Lyon College and Presbyterian College. She has been doing research and writing for the last forty years, and her most recent focus has been on local history and the history of the Presbyterian Church. She and her husband, John, live in Davidson.