GREAT BARRINGTON, MA, March 20, 2018 — Clinton Church Restoration and Saint James Place will co-host a presentation to reveal the findings of a recently completed Historic Structure Report on the former Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church on Elm Court in Great Barrington. The report documents the history of the historic Elm Court church and establishes guidelines for future decisions concerning its rehabilitation. The public is invited to learn about the history of the building from project architect Steve McAlister and preservationist Bill Finch on Sunday, April 15 at 2 p.m. at Saint James Place. The event is free and open to the public with donations gratefully accepted for the restoration.

“Steve McAlister, of the firm Clark & Green Architects, and his team meticulously investigated every inch of the church building,” said Diego Gutierrez, chair of Clinton Church Restoration’s building committee. “The product of their labor is a 125-page Historic Structure Report that not only provides an assessment of the building’s current condition, but documents the fascinating architectural history of the 131-year-old structure."

The Historic Structure Report is a significant step for the new nonprofit, which raised over $100,000 from the community to purchase the deconsecrated church and begin planning for its restoration. The first phase of work on the building is slated to begin this year, funded in part by a $388,508 National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Grant announced last week by the organization’s fiscal sponsor, Housatonic Heritage.

The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail. Dedicated in 1887, it is historically significant for its association with the religious and cultural heritage of the local African American community, including the scholar and civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois. It is also significant as a distinctive example of late 19th-century vernacular church architecture.

Clinton Church Restoration was founded in 2016 and is chaired by longtime church congregant Wray Gunn. The nonprofit plans to restore and repurpose the former church for community use in a manner that celebrates and honors the local African American community, the church’s history and its first female pastor, Rev. Esther Dozier, and the legacy of Great Barrington native son, W.E.B. Du Bois. Donations to the project may be made online at, or by check made payable to Clinton Church Restoration and sent to P.O. Box 1075, Great Barrington, MA 01230.

Following the April 15 presentation, a copy of the 125-page Historic Structure Report will be available at Mason Public Library in Great Barrington thanks to Friends of Great Barrington Libraries.

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

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