Historic African American Church in Charlotte to be Converted Into Condos

To preservationists’ dismay, Wesley Heights Methodist, a historic African American church on Charlotte’s west side, will be converted into condominiums. COURTESY OF DAN MORRILL (Source: Charlotte Observer)

To preservationists’ dismay, a historic African American church on Charlotte’s west side will apparently be converted into condominiums.

Wesley Heights Methodist “is a magnificent church,” longtime Charlotte historic preservationist Dan Morrill told The Charlotte Observer on Saturday.

The church opened in 1927 and was designed by “one of Charlotte’s premier architects,” Louis Asbury Sr., Morrill said. “He also designed Myers Park Methodist,” Morrill posted on Facebook on Saturday. “Can you imagine putting condos there?”

An application filed with the Charlotte Historic District Commission lists the applicant/owner of the proposed Villa Emmanuel condominium project as Charlotte architect David Wales, who could not be reached for comment. The application, for a certificate of appropriateness, indicates the building would be extensively renovated, but not demolished.

The commission must still sign off on the certificate. Commission staff said they’re primarily concerned about the loss of “original, character-defining stained-glass windows.”

The Wesley Heights Methodist congregation was white when the church opened, but the grand Romanesque Revival building became affiliated in later decades with the predominantly black A.M.E. Zion church. For over a decade, Charlotte Immanuel Church of All Nations has owned the property.

Having expanded their ministry elsewhere, Charlotte Immanuel Church of All Nations leaders decided to sell the property in recent months, Morrill said.

PRESERVATIONIST SADDENED BY SALE

“What is really sad is that there was a backup contract to save the church, including the interior, and use it as the home for a host of agencies to help people,” Morrill posted on Facebook Friday.

Morrill was referring to J’Tanya Adams, founder and program director of Historic West End Partners, an economic development and cultural non-profit.

Adams told the Observer on Saturday that she’d hoped her non-profit could buy the property, preserve the sanctuary and its many original features and use space in the immense building and nearby parsonage for the performing and culinary arts and other public uses.

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SOURCE: WBTV3; The Charlotte Observer, Joe Marusak