Historic Black Church receives $150,000 from Shelby County

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Shelby County leaders will meet on Friday, October 28, 2022 to announce support for the repair of the historic Beale Street Baptist Church.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Beale Street Baptist Church is undergoing a historic upgrade. Shelby Lee Harris County and county leaders and officials will celebrate alongside the church by securing $150,000 for restorations to the historic building. They are hosting a historic preservation announcement and tour of Beale Street Baptist Church on Friday, October 28, 2022.

“Beale Street Baptist Church is a place of peace, community and service for generations of Shelby County residents,” Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris said in a news release. “This restoration project will ensure that this historic landmark can continue to be just that for generations to come.”

The first construction of the church dates back to 1869. Beale Street Baptist Church was originally built in Memphis for African American parishioners and is considered one of the first black churches built in the South. Its origins date back to 1840.

“Shelby County has a rich history and Beale Street Baptist Church has been part of that history for over 180 years. The church walls tell the stories of all who have come before us, and this restoration project will help tell the stories of those who come after,” said Shelby County Commission Chairman Mickell Lowery.

Shelby County Deeds Registry Willie Brooks approved the project in June 2022 to help fund improvements and ADA requirements. It should finance the repairs of the roof, the facade and ensure the architectural restoration of the Gothic-inspired building.

The monument which has been called the “Mother of the Black Churches” has also been visited by two presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and Ulysses S. Grant. The office of civil rights pioneer and journalist Ida B. Wells and the newspaper she edited, “The Memphis Free Speech”, were also located at the church.

Friday’s event will include a tour of the church and remarks on the historic restoration project and will begin at 9:55 a.m.

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