The church where abolitionist Frederick Douglass gave his last speech in 1894 and where mourners gathered for Rosa Parks’ funeral more than a century later has been placed on a list for endangered sites.
The Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington, D.C. is on the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in America list because it needs $11 million in “critical but unaffordable repairs,” according to the L.A. Times.
Once a grand place for meeting and worship just blocks away from the White House, the majestic building is now deteriorated with cracks, water damage and falling chunks of plaster.
Completed in 1886, the red brick Victorian Gothic-style church was built with donations from A.M.E. congregations across the country, according to a statement from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The church seats 2,500 and has been on the National Registry of Historic Places since 1973.
“From anti-slavery leadership in the mid-19th century to AIDS education and voter registration projects today ,Metropolitan A.M.E. Church has been not just a major center of worship but an institution at the forefront of thecivic, cultural and intellectual life of African Americans,” said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in the statement. “The church is sadly illustrative of many historic urban houses of worship that are in danger of being lost forever.”
Senior Pastor Ronald E. Braxton told the Washington Post that he can’t help but feel the spirit of ancestors in the place.
“When you ask me the question, ‘Do you feel the spirit of the ancestors . . . who have come this way?’ You can’t help” it, Braxton said. “Once you have some knowledge of the history of this building and of these people, you can’t help but have some sense that that spirit is still in this place.”