GREAT BARRINGTON (October 18, 2019) — Clinton Church Restoration, Inc. has engaged a general contractor to undertake the first phase of restoration work on the former Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church at 9 Elm Court in Great Barrington. Larochelle Construction, Inc. of South Hadley, Massachusetts, has been awarded a contract to repair and replace the roof on the historic church. The firm, which brings 25 years of experience that includes historic preservation projects, wood shingle replacement, and work on National Register properties, will work closely with the project’s design team, led by Huff + Gooden Architects.

A construction kickoff event will be held at the site on October 23 at 12:30pm.

“This will be a great day for Clinton Church Restoration,” said Wray Gunn, Sr., board chair of the nonprofit and a former church trustee. “We have worked hard to save this historic landmark in downtown Great Barrington and look forward to seeing it restored in a way that will benefit the community.”

The church’s failing roof has been patched or tarped several times since the organization formed in 2016 to save the National Register property and repurpose it as an African American heritage site and cultural center. Cora Portnoff, a former congregant who also serves on the nonprofit’s board, said the planned center will honor the legacy of the local African American community, in part by “bringing awareness to the largely unknown stories of the people who founded the church and lived around it for years.”

More than 500 individual donors have contributed to the effort to save and restore the church for adaptive reuse. The project is also being supported in part by an African American Civil Rights Grant from the Historic Preservation Fund administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, and the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area; an emergency matching grant from the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund through the Massachusetts Historical Commission, Secretary of the Commonwealth, William Francis Galvin, Chairman; and the Citizens of Great Barrington through the Community Preservation Act.

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