A Community Mission
Clinton Church Restoration was formed in late 2016 by a group of local community members concerned about the fate of the historic property. The church, vacant for two years, had recently been deconsecrated and put on the market. With longtime congregant Wray Gunn serving as chair, the group incorporated as a Massachusetts nonprofit and began fundraising to save the church. Thanks to the contributions of more than 400 donors, we surpassed our initial $100,000 fundraising goal in just five months and in May 2017, purchased the property.
Now a 501(c)(3), Clinton Church Restoration’s mission is to restore the historic property for adaptive reuse as a vibrant heritage site and visitor center that interprets the life and legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois, celebrates the Berkshires’ rich African American heritage and honors the history of the church and the work of its first female pastor, the Rev. Esther Dozier.
A Plan for the Future
Clinton Church Restoration has been working with key stakeholders, architects, designers, planners, and consultants to develop a plan for the preservation and ultimate use of the property since the beginning. Efforts to date include:
- Visioning Process (2017): The Jackson Design Group facilitated a public session and two charrettes to garner public input on the project and engage key stakeholders.
- Asset Mapping and Design Charette (2017): Partners for Sacred Places and the Jackson Design Group facilitated an asset mapping workshop and design charrette with architects and key stakeholders.
- Historic Structure Report (2018): Undertaken by a team led by Clark and Green Architects, this 142-page HSR documents the church’s social and architectural history, assesses existing conditions, and identifies and prioritizes treatment recommendations.
- Project Architect Hired (2019): The award-winning firm Huff + Gooden Architects was selected to lead the design team for the restoration.
- Construction Kickoff (2019): General contractor Larochelle Construction began work in late October to replace the church roof and repair related damage.
- Exhibit Design Team Hired (2020): A team lead by Proun Design was selected to develop a comprehensive interpretive plan for the site, design all exhibits and interpretive elements, and oversee exhibit fabrication and installation.
The preservation of the historic Clinton Church, which is part of a growing movement to preserve African American historic places around the country, has garnered significant attention. In addition to local press, the project has been mentioned in Essence Magazine and Architectural Digest.
Grant funding for the project’s initial phase of stabilization work has come from the National Park Service African American Civil Rights Grants program, through CCR partner Housatonic Heritage, an emergency grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Projects Fund, Community Preservation Act funding from the Town of Great Barrington, and the Feigenbaum Foundation.
CCR has also received grants for planning and exhibit design from the National Park Service, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Trust for Historic Preservation African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interiors, Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, the Jane & Jack Fitzpatrick Trust, and the Feigenbaum Foundation. COVID-related operating support has been provided by the Jane & Jack Fitzpatrick Trust, and by Mass Humanities through the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the 2020 CARES Act.