Selma’s Brown Chapel AME Church leads national endangered places list

Selma Brown Chapel Ame Church 1 17Q4C Alabama, Brown Chapel Ame Church, Selma, Selma Al
(Billy Milstead / Rural Southwest Alabama)

Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma tops this year’s list of endangered historic places from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a nonprofit organization that works to highlight and preserve sites that are in danger of being lost. Keep reading to learn what’s going on with the historic landmark.

A National Historic Landmark

Screen Shot 2022 05 05 At 1.47.29 Pm Alabama, Brown Chapel Ame Church, Selma, Selma Al
A historic building. (Rural Southwest Alabama)

The building was constructed in 1908 and was later the starting point for the Selma to Montgomery Marches in 1965.

The Alabama church is where hundreds met before Alabama state troopers attacked voting rights demonstrators on Bloody Sunday in 1965 at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

What happened?

Like churches all over, the people of Brown Chapel AME Church closed their doors at the beginning of the pandemic when it wasn’t safe to gather for worship.

When members were able to return, they found their church eaten up by termites and damaged by water leaks. The structure was unstable, the walls were damaged and mold was growing in the building.

What this means

Foundation Board Members Alabama, Brown Chapel Ame Church, Selma, Selma Al
Foundation board members fighting to keep this building alive. (Historic Brown Chapel AME Church Preservation Society)

The church is no longer in shape to serve its community or even stand much longer.

“This National Historic Landmark and internationally known civil rights site of pilgrimage is unable to serve as a community resource, welcome guests, or host national events”

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Park Service has provided a grant of $1.3 million for restoration of the church. But, the church needs significant additional funding to repair and re-open the building, which hosts thousands of visitors and serves its community through food distribution and COVID-19 support.

Check out The Historic Brown Chapel AME Church Preservation Society to see what they are doing and how YOU can help this historic site continue to serve its community and the nation as a beacon of hope.

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Callie Puryear
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