African American Church Put on Massachusetts Most Endangered Historic Resources List

The Clinton AME Zion Church in Great Barrington is for sale, Tuesday, May 10, 2016. Ben Garver — The Berkshire Eagle | photos.berkshireeagle.com

A group trying to preserve a building that was home to one of the first African-American churches in Berkshire County will now have a little extra support from a statewide advocacy group.

Preservation Massachusetts has placed the former Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church property on Elm Court on its Massachusetts Most Endangered Historic Resources list.

The Plymouth-based nonprofit agency began the list in 1993 to draw attention — and hopefully money — to historic structures that are at risk of being lost to neglect.

The deconsecrated church, completed in 1887, was long the spiritual, political and cultural meeting place for black people who streamed north during post-Civil War Reconstruction and settled in the area.

“This small church has a powerful and important story to tell,” said Jim Igoe, the president of Preservation Massachusetts.

Igoe said his agency will work with the Clinton Church Restoration group to make sure it gets the support needed to restore a “distinctive example of 19th century vernacular, church architecture.”

Being added to the endangered properties list could help advance preservation work, the agency said in a statement.

“Of the more than 220 historic resources designated as endangered since the list’s inception in 1993, 91 have been classified as saved, 31 have been lost, while many more are either progressing or continue to face threats.”

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SOURCE: The Berkshire Eagle, Heather Bellow