Four historically Black churches awarded grants to preserve work of pioneering architects

by | Jun 15, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund announced a $3.8 million grant on Tuesday (June 13) aimed at helping to preserve 40 historical sites related to African American history, including theaters, swimming pools and four Black churches.Founded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2017, the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund has dedicated more than $20 million given by the Lilly Endowment for the preservation of African American historic sites that tell “the story of Black Americans’ activism, achievement and resilience,” said the fund’s executive director, Brent Leggs.
The fund is dedicated, in particular, to supporting Black houses of worship. “Black churches are the oldest American institutions founded by Black people. They are at the center of communities,” said Leggs.
In January, the fund awarded nearly three dozen historic Black religious sites $4 million in preservation grants.
Announced in anticipation of Juneteenth, which celebrates the effective end of slavery in America, the grants, which range from $50,000 to $155,000, will contribute not only to the restoration of buildings but to maintaining staff capacity, project development and educational programs. 
The fund partnered with Conserving Black Modernism, which focuses on preserving modern architecture by Black architects and designers, and the collaboration was reflected in the four Black churches the fund designated for grants.
The Fourth Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia, founded by 23 former slaves in 1859, received a grant to preserve its educational wing, designed by Ethel Bailey Furman, a self-taught architect who was also the first Black woman to enter the profession.  
The Second Bapti …

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