National Park Service Awards Grant Funding For African American Civil Rights Sites
Great Barrington, Mass., March 20, 2018. The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area (Housatonic Heritage) announced that it has received a grant of $388,508 to assist in the restoration of Great Barrington’s historic Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church. The funds will be used for Phase 1 construction work to address the most critical needs of the property, located at 9 Elm Court. It is anticipated that the grant funding will allow work to begin by early summer.
The National Park Service African American Civil Rights grant award is part of $12.6 million awarded to 51 projects in 24 states that preserve sites and highlight stories related to the African American struggle for equality in the 20th century. The grant is funded through the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) and is administered by the National Park Service (NPS).
Phase I work on Clinton Church will focus on areas of the building that most urgently need attention, and may include a new wood shingle roof, abatement of mold and mildew, improved drainage, replacement of the basement floor slab, raising the building to make the basement useable, and repair or modification to the parsonage to prepare it to be used for programming and interpretation.
Congressman Richard Neal (D-MA) of Massachusetts’ 1st District expressed his delight with the announcement, stating “Congratulations to Housatonic Heritage for being selected for this grant that will be used for the restoration of the Clinton Church in Great Barrington.” The Congressman went on to state “These grants from the Dept. of the Interior and National Park Service are an integral component to preserving our nation’s history and keeping historic landmarks like this one in the Berkshires alive for generations to come.”
Housatonic Heritage’s Executive Director, Dan Bolognani, voiced his gratitude, saying that “Housatonic Heritage is pleased that we’re able to play a pivotal role in this important undertaking. The Historic Preservation Fund grant was welcome news as the Clinton Church Restoration project is poised to make significant progress in the needed ‘brick & mortar’ repairs.” He went on to state that “This grant program for African American Civil Rights projects came along at exactly the right time, as we were just completing the critical public-input process and background materials that will inform the reconstruction process.”.
Wray Gunn, Chairman of the Clinton Church Restoration organization said “This grant is a milestone for the CCR to continue its mission to restore the iconic Clinton AME Zion Church for community use. Thanks to all who have given of their time and efforts to get this grant.”
The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area is a partnership program administered through the National Park Service, and serves the 29 communities of the Housatonic River watershed in MA and CT. Its mission is to illuminate the diverse, rich identity of the upper Housatonic River valley region and to preserve and promote its historical, cultural and natural resources. Details at www.HousatonicHeritage.org.