Firm moves ahead on plans to demolish historic black church
Posted September 3
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Atlanta Gas Light is moving forward with plans to tear down a historic black church that sits on land contaminated by a former nearby coal gas plant.
The energy company plans to appeal a recent decision by the Historic Preservation Commission, The Augusta Chronicle reported . That decision denied a certificate to tear down the former home of Trinity CME Church.
The move comes despite an ongoing "Save Mother Trinity" campaign to relocate the church to a nearby site.
The church was built by former slaves in the 1890s at the site of the founding of the Christian Methodist Episcopal denomination a half-century earlier.
Atlanta Gas Light said it has been unable to identify any organization which could safety move, restore and maintain the building.
Atlanta Gas Light is a subsidiary of Southern Co., which provides power to residents in Georgia, Alabama and several other states.
A coal gas plant contaminated land under and around the church for nearly a century until it was replaced by cleaner natural gas in 1955. The surrounding area has been cleared of coal tar residue, and all that remains is contamination beneath the church, according to previous reports.
Atlanta Gas Light encountered fierce opposition to its plans at a recent Historic Preservation Commission meeting.
The company has offered the building "to any organization that can demonstrate it has the funds and expertise to safely move, restore and maintain the building" several times over the past 17 years, but had no viable takers, the Augusta newspaper reported.
The canal authority's offer is insufficient for the task, which Atlanta Gas Light says might cost an additional $750,000 to move and up to $2.5 million more to stabilize and restore the church, the ad states.
"We are concerned that even if the building can safely be moved, without a viable plan to complete the entire project, the effort would only transfer a rapidly deteriorating building to a different location where it could become a blight and safety hazard for the community," the company said.
The company's appeal now goes before the Augusta Commission.