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New Visitor’s Center to Open Next to Birmingham’s Historic 16th Street Baptist Church

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By Pat Byington

bhamnow.com

The city of Birmingham’s Design Review Committee this week approved the design of a new 16th Street Baptist Church Multi-Purpose Visitor and Educational Center building.

According to Birmingham-based CCR Architecture, the 13,000 square foot two-story building will enhance the historic parish’s ability to receive tourists and organizations visiting the church.

The visitor center will be located adjacent to the existing church Parsonage and Sanctuary buildings. Amenities include meeting rooms; dining area; commercial kitchen and support space to relieve the volume of tourists visiting the existing sanctuary building.

“This new building addition will symbolize the movement from ‘a dark past’ to a new light of hope and vision for the entire community,” said Rev. Arthur Price, Jr., pastor of the 16th Street Baptist Church.  “We are committed to preserving this important legacy and continuing the fight for social justice and equality for all people.”

One of Birmingham’s oldest churches and site of the September 15, 1963 bombing that killed four little girls attending Sunday school, the 16th Street Baptist Church is now part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.

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Construction on the visitor center is expected to begin later this year and will be completed in 2024, according to the church.

Richard Mauk, Chair of the Design Review Committee told Bham Now that was “very impressed” with the design.

“It complements the historic atmosphere of part of the Civil Rights Museum,” he said. “It meets the future needs of the Civil Rights district going forward. We’re very pleased with it and look forward to seeing the finished product.”

In a comment directed toward CCR Architecture’s Roman Gary, who gave the presentation to the committee, new Design Review Committee member Cheryl Morgan said:

“I saw some of the earlier iterations (designs of the building). I think you landed in a good place—it is very respectful of the church.”

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