GREAT BARRINGTON (August 20, 2018) — Clinton Church Restoration, Inc. is seeking proposals for historic preservation, architectural design and engineering services for the former Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church at 9 Elm Court in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The nonprofit purchased the historic property last year and plans to restore and repurpose it as an African American Heritage Center.

“We invite inquiries from well-qualified preservation architects,” said Diego Gutierrez, board member and building committee chair, noting that the announcement is being sent to a list of recommended firms, and that women- and minority-owned firms are encouraged to submit proposals. Interested parties who have not received the announcement may contact Gutierrez by email at housyarch@outlook.com.

Dedicated in 1887, the Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church is significant for its association with civil rights leader and native son W.E.B. Du Bois, and as a distinctive example of 19th century vernacular church architecture. It also served as the spiritual, cultural and political home of the local African American community for nearly 130 years, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building, which was deconsecrated in 2016, has been vacant for several years and suffers from severe water damage.

The historic structure report commissioned by the organization identifies treatment recommendations and an initial phase of work needed to stabilize the building. It includes constructing a new wood shingle roof over the entire structure, improving site and basement drainage and making the church’s basement social hall a usable, code-compliant space. The majority of funds needed for this stabilization phase has been secured from a National Park Service African American Civil Rights grant awarded through Housatonic Heritage, an emergency grant from the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and Community Preservation Act funds from the Town of Great Barrington.

Clinton Church Restoration’s goal is to preserve and repurpose the historic Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church property as a vital, self-sustaining entity for community use that celebrates and honors the local African American community, the church’s 130-year history and its first female pastor, Rev. Esther Dozier, and the legacy of Great Barrington’s most famous native son, W.E.B. Du Bois. The project is part of a growing movement to preserve African American historic places around the country.

(press release sent to WSBS sent from Diego Gutierrez for online and on-air use, article image taken from the Clinton Church Restoration Facebook page)