By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham has been named one of 11 historic sites to win a $150,000 grant, which will be used to place protective glass over the recently restored stained-glass windows.
The announcement was made today.
The money will also help repair the cupola — (a small dome-like structure adorning a roof or ceiling) in the center of the church, which features a skylight that illuminates the inside of the building — and the two bell towers, which need brick work and repainting.
The church, along with 19 other sites participated, in the Partners in Preservation competition for funding campaign which began in September and focused on sites that celebrate diversity and the struggle for equality. The campaign ended last week with the church in the top 10.
“Sixteenth Street Baptist Church is very appreciative of this grant from the National Trust which will help us to preserve our stained-glass windows, bell towers and cupola,” said Reverend Arthur Price, pastor of the church.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin was equally pleased.
“I join every resident of Birmingham in celebrating this huge award for Sixteenth Street Baptist Church,” said Woodfin. “Sixteenth Street is so much more than a building—it symbolizes the resilience of those who fought tirelessly in the name of justice. It’s a cornerstone of our city and a living monument to social justice. This grant will ensure that Sixteenth Street’s legacy remains strong.”
David Fleming, REV CEO and President, said “thousands and thousands of voters prove again that Birmingham is invested in preserving its historic buildings. Sixteenth Street Baptist is an important piece of our city’s and our nation’s history, and this grant will help ensure that it remains part of our future.”
Theodore Debro, chairman of the church’s board of trustees and the Strategic Planning Committee, was instrumental in applying for the grant submitting a proposal to REV Birmingham.
“We’re very excited about receiving this grant . . . and [we’re inspired] to go even further in making sure that we preserve the church for the public, for continued worship services, and for generations to come,” said Debro.
The grant will allow the church to nearly complete the restoration and restore the parsonage for use by the public, Debro said.
Price added, “We would like to thank the City of Birmingham, the community at large, and all those around the country who were diligent in voting for Sixteenth Street to receive this award . . . we are especially grateful to REV Birmingham and their amazing staff for nominating us for this award. This grant will go a long way in helping us preserve this iconic site for future generations. We are humbled and grateful for this honor.”
Other sites that won funding include The Tabor Opera House, Leadville, Colorado; The Women’s Building, San Francisco, California; City Hall Clock Tower, Biddeford, Maine; The Church of the Epiphany, Los Angeles, California; Bronzeville Cookin’, Chicago, Illinois; Wah Chong Tai Mercantile, Butte, Montana; Historic First Baptist Church, San Marcos, Texas; Spring Street, Danville, Virginia; National Women’s Hall of Fame, Seneca Falls, New York; and The Arch Social Club, Baltimore, Maryland.
Partners in Preservation is a community-based partnership, created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express, to raise awareness of the importance of preserving historic places and their role in sustaining local communities.
This is the second year in a row a site in Birmingham has been awarded a Partners in Preservation grant. Last year, the Alabama Theatre won $120,000 for its 18th Street vertical Alabama sign.
Click here to read more stories about preservation in Birmingham.