One of Preservation Chapel Hill’s primary advocacy efforts each year is to publish a list of Chapel Hill’s endangered places to raise awareness about the threats that face our most important historic treasures. The list is released each May during Preservation Month and becomes the focus of the group’s preservation efforts for the coming year.
This year’s list includes St. Paul AME Church, located at 101 S. Merritt Mill Road.
The St. Paul AME Church congregation was formed in 1864 and is the oldest African-American congregation in Chapel Hill. Its members first worshipped in a grape arbor on the site where the church now stands.
In 1878, Dilsey and Benjamin Craig sold the land to the congregation and in 1892 the building was completed. Although it has been renovated over the years to accommodate the growing congregation, the structure stands as a landmark for the neighborhood and a symbol of strength, freedom and community.
As St. Paul’s continues to grow, the church is now looking to the future and has purchased a property north of town where they plan to build St. Paul’s Village. With their original church building on prime real estate, located on West Franklin Street straddling the Chapel Hill-Carrboro line, it is threatened with almost certain demolition if not purchased by a preservation-minded buyer.
You can help save historic places in our community by volunteering your time with Preservation Chapel Hill or by making a tax-deductible donation to help fund preservation initiatives. Call Cheri Szcodronski, executive director, at 919-942-7818 for more information. Or, visit www.preservationchapelhill.org to view the complete list of 2013 Endangered Places, learn more about our volunteer program, or to make a donation.