Promise Land was established and settled by African Americans during the Reconstruction Period (1870-1875) after the emancipation from slavery. Many of the earlier residents were former slaves who worked at the nearby Cumberland Furnace. The Furnace continued to serve as a source of employment for many of the residents after emancipation.
Once encompassing 1,000 acres and more than 50 homes, stores, three churches and an elementary school, today only the St. John Promise Land Church and the old Promise Land School Building remain. Work is currently underway to restore the school as a one-room schoolhouse museum. It currently houses many displays of memorabilia and photographs interpreting the Promise Land Community and life in this African American community.
The Promise Land School was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. In 2010, a Civil War Trails Marker was placed on the site of the historic school building.