Great Barrington, MA - Clinton Church Restoration, Inc. is one of 22 sites and organizations dedicated to preserving African American history to receive grant support from National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. As part of the second class of Action Fund grantees, Clinton Church Restoration was awarded $75,000 to continue its efforts to restore and repurpose the historic Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church as an African American heritage site and cultural center.

“We are honored to receive this grant and be in the company of so many worthy projects,” said Wray Gunn, former church trustee and chair of Clinton Church Restoration. “The Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church embodies the rich history of Black life in Great Barrington, where W.E.B. Du Bois was born and raised. The grant will help us develop detailed plans for a heritage site and cultural center that will share the community’s untold stories and interpret Du Bois’s life and legacy in his hometown.”

The Action Fund is a $25 million multi-year national initiative aimed at uplifting the largely overlooked contributions of African Americans by protecting and restoring African American historic sites and uncovering hidden stories of African Americans connected to historic sites across the nation. This year’s grantees include the African Meeting House in Boston, the Langston Hughes House in Harlem, and God’s Little Acre, an African burial ground in Newport, Rhode Island.

In his announcement from Center Stage at this year’s Essence Festival last Friday, Brent Leggs, executive director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, underscored the importance of this work, noting, “The recipients of this funding shine a light on once lived stories and Black culture, some familiar and some yet untold, that weave together the complex story of American history in the United States.”

Clinton Church Restoration was chosen from a pool of over 462 applications totaling over $40M in requests for support. The community-based nonprofit was formed in 2016 to save the vacant National Register property after it was deconsecrated and put on the market. The group subsequently purchased the historic church, developed its vision for a heritage site and cultural center, and commissioned a historic structure report. In January, the award-winning African American firm Huff + Gooden Architects was hired to restore and repurpose the church, which will include a performance space, fellowship hall and visitor center offering interpretive exhibits, tours and programming focused on African American history and the life and legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois. An initial phase of stabilization work is underway with funding from the National Park Service, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and a Great Barrington Community Preservation Act grant.

Funding for this round of Action Fund grants, provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, was awarded to key places and organizations that help it achieve its mission of protecting, restoring, and interpreting African American historic sites and uncovering hidden narratives of African Americans and their contribution to the American story. Grants are given across four categories: capacity building, project planning, capital, and programming and interpretation.

You can view a full list of grant award recipients by going here.

(press release and photos sent to WSBS from Eugenie Sills of the Clinton Church Restoration for online and on-air use)