Timeline

2022

  • CCR honors the late Rev. Esther Dozier — who initiated Great Barrington’s annual celebrations of W. E. B. Du Bois more than 20 years ago — on what would have been her 80th birthday. The April 2 community celebration, featuring music, tributes, and a reception, is held at Saint James Place in Great Barrington.
  • The American Historical Association awards $75,000 to CCR, part of its AHA–NEH Grants to Sustain and Advance the Work of Historical Organizations.
  • Dr. Kendra Field delivers remarks on behalf of Clinton Church Restoration as part of the Town of Great Barrington 5th Annual W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Festival.
  • A memorial service for Yolande Du Bois Williams Irvin, the only grandchild of W.E.B. Du Bois is held in Great Barrington on February 18, followed by the unveiling of her gravestone in the Mahaiwe Cemetery. She died in Fort Collins, Colorado, on November 15, 2021.
  • Clinton Church Restoration Project partners with the Berkshire County chapter of the NAACP and the Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at Berkshire Community College to form a Black oral history collaborative that will collect and preserve the stories of African Americans in the Berkshires.
  • In January, CCR project historian Dr. Kendra T. Field receives the W.E.B. Du Bois Freedom Fund Award from the NAACP Berkshire County Branch, and delivers a keynote address about family, kinship, and W.E.B. Du Bois.

2021

  • Clinton Church Restoration is five years old! Click here to see highlights
  • CCR receives a $15,000 grant from the Town of Great Barrington’s Community Impact Fund to support programming that has a positive impact on the town’s reputation.
  • Mass Humanities awards a $20,000 Expanding Massachusetts Stories grant to CCR for continued exhibition design work slated for 2022.
  • The National Park Service African American Civil Rights grant program awards $495,322 to Housatonic Heritage for the Clinton Church Restoration project’s ongoing stabilization work.
  • The Town of Great Barrington awards $200,000 in Community Preservation Act funds to CCR for continued structural stabilization and repair work.
  • The tarps come off the church as Larochelle Construction completes the installation of a watertight, base-layer roof on the entire church building, along with substantial structural repair required to support the new roof.
  • An outdoor interpretive exhibit designed by graduate students at UMass Amherst is installed on the Clinton Church Restoration project site.
  • Dennis Powell, CCR vice chair and president of the Berkshire County Chapter of the NAACP, is awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires.
  • Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed and Eugenie Sills present a talk titled, “Preserving History: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church,” as part of the Berkshire Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s Distinguished Speaker Series
  • In partnership with the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, CCR co-presents a virtual screening of Rhapsody in Black, LeLand Gantt’s one-man show about racism, identity, and self-image.
  • At the Town of Great Barrington’s annual celebration of W.E.B. Du Bois’ birthday, CCR president Wray Gunn, Sr. is awarded the W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Award for his many years of work to honor the civil rights pioneer in Great Barrington.
  • Three Williams College students join CCR for month-long internships during their January break.
  • The Berkshire County Chapter of the NAACP honors CCR board member Rachel Fletcher with its W. E. B. Du Bois Freedom Award, and CCR scholars council member Sandra Burton with its Baba Chuck Davis Freedom Award.
  • The Town of Great Barrington declares February 23rd to be W.E.B. Du Bois Legacy Day and commits to honoring the town’s most famous native son every year on his birthday.  The proclamation represents another step in the decades-long effort to properly honor the scholar, activist, and civil rights pioneer in the town where he was born and raised.

2020

  • In October, CCR begins a 14-week online community read of The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois featuring Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed in conversation with guest scholars and the audience.
  • Construction resumes with a focus on addressing the most urgent structural damage and installation of a watertight base-layer roof.
  • In partnership with the Triplex Cinema and the Berkshire International Film Festival, CCR presents W.E.B. Du Bois to George Floyd: 150 Years of Resistance, a weekend of documentary films about African American resistance to racial injustice.
  • The Jane & Jack Fitzpatrick Trust awards CCR a $20,000 grant for operating support.
  • CCR is awarded an $8,500 matching grant from the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interiors for the development of a conservation plan.
  • Restoration of the Clinton Church is included in an Architectural Digest article titled “When Architecture and Racial Justice Intersect,” which highlights the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund and its efforts to preserve Black historic sites (CCR is among the Fund’s 60 grantees.)
  • Massachusetts Humanities awards CCR a $2,500 grant with funding provided through the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the federal CARES Act.
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities awards CCR a $40,000 grant for interpretive exhibit design.
  • Wray Gunn, Sr., chair of the CCR board of directors, receives a Lifetime Achievement Award from the  Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires and the Center’s Unsung Heros Award goes to Sabrina Allard, a member of CCR’s Programming and Interpretation Committee.
  • An interpretive plan and initial audience research for the restored facility are completed
  • Housatonic Heritage receives a $50,000 history grant from the National Park Service African American Civil Rights program for interpretive exhibit design at the historic church.
  • The Town of Great Barrington removes the Norway Maple tree in front of the church to make way for the necessary relocation of power lines away from the belfry.
  • COVID-19 hits the Berkshires.
  • CCR president and longtime Clinton Church member, Wray Gunn, Sr, celebrates his 90th birthday!
  • With Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed as chair, CCR forms an advisory Council of Scholars to provide input and guidance on the development of its new (as yet unnamed) cultural center and act as ambassadors for the project.
  • The Feigenbaum Foundation awards CCR a $100,000 grant for Phase II Design.
  • Structural damage to the building is uncovered during roof construction, leading to further investigation and assessment by Silman, the project’s structural engineer.
  • On January 17, Proun Design kicks off the project’s interpretive planning process at an all-day session in Great Barrington.

2019

  • Larochelle Construction begins work on the church after a kickoff event on October 23
  • CCR board member Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed, Professor Emeritus at MCLA, and CCR interim executive director Eugenie Sills present a workshop at Preservation. Massachusetts’ statewide historic preservation conference in Plymouth, MA.
  • The Jane & Jack Fitzpatrick Trust awards a $75,000 grant to Clinton Church Restoration for Phase II Design work.
  • Clinton Church Restoration is awarded a $75,000 planning grant by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund for the development of Phase II architectural and engineering plans.
  • Historic preservationist and CCR building committee member Paul Ivory presents the project at an event on the adaptive use of historic churches hosted by the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and Western Massachusetts Historic Commission Coalition in Great Barrington.
  • 200+ people attend the June 9th benefit concert, “Common Ground: A Celebration of Jazz and Jewish Music with Wanda Houston and Paul Green,” held at Hevreh of Southern Berkshire.
  • The Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund awards Clinton Church Restoration a Feasibility and Technical Assistance grant of $30,000 to help fund the development of architectural and engineering plans for Phase II Design.
  • An evening of youth poetry, featuring slam poet Kofi Dadzie and MassLeap’s Alex Charalambides, is held at Fuel Bistro as part of a statewide celebration of ArtWeek
  • Essence magazine mentions the project in its April issue.
  • Advisory board member Eugenie Sills is named Interim Executive Director.
  • Huff + Gooden Architects begins developing plans for urgent stabilization work.
  • Preservation Massachusetts presents its K. Julie McCarthy Community Spirit Award and recognizes the addition of the church to the Massachusetts Most Endangered Historic Resources List, at an event at the Great Barrington Town Hall on January 31.
  • A group from the Jubilee School in Philadelphia visits the church as part of a three-day visit organized by the W.E.B. Du Bois Educational Series and Monument Valley Middle School. Rev. Esther Dozier and the Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church organized the Jubilee School’s first visit to Great Barrington nearly 20 years ago.

2018

  • CCR board and advisory board members attend Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation’s Board Leadership Forum at Simon’s Rock.
  • Great Barrington’s new downtown Cultural District, which includes the historic Clinton Church, is announced by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
  • Preservation Massachusetts names the Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church to its list of Massachusetts Most Endangered Historic Resources and awards the K. Julie McCarthy Community Spirit Award to CCR at its annual Believe in Preservation event in Boston.
  • Preservation Works! project sign installed in front of the church; sign acknowledges grant funding from the National Park Service, Massachusetts Historical Commission, and the Town of Great Barrington.
  • Approximately 75 people attend a reception on the lawn of the Clinton Church following Great Barrington RiverWalk’s program, W.E.B. Du Bois: Born by a Golden River, an afternoon of readings and musical offerings honoring Du Bois’ special connection with rivers.
  • On August 27, the 55th anniversary of the death of W.E.B. Du Bois, the Great Barrington Selectboard voted unanimously to form an official town committee to honor the legacy of its most famous native son.
  • Architect Steve McAllister of Clark & Green and preservationist Bill Finch present their findings from their Historic Structure Report at  St. James Place on April 15
  • Benefit performance/talk and book signing with Ray Anthony Shepard, author of Now or Never! 54th Massachusetts Infantry’s War to End Slavery is held at First Congregational Church in Great Barrington on May 5.
  • May 29th marks the 10th anniversary of the listing of Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Great Barrington voters approve the award of $100k in Community Preservation Act funding for Phase I work on the church.
  • Historic Structure Report received from Clark & Green Architects.
  • Strategy Overview Report received from The Jackson Design Group.
  • The collection at January 15th MLK Day Interfaith Service at First Congregational Church in Great Barrington will benefit efforts to restore Clinton Church.
  • National Park Service African American Civil Rights Grants Program awards$388,508 to Housatonic Heritage for Phase I work on the church.
  • Secretary of the Commonwealth and Massachusetts Historical Commission awarded a $75,000 MPPF emergency grant to CCR to repair the building’s leaking roof.

2017

  • Two-day Planning Workshop with key stakeholders facilitated by Partners for Sacred Spaces, a national nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and active community use of historic religious properties, and interpretive planner Veronica Jackson.
  • CCR co-sponsors film screening and discussion of Dear White People with Great Barrington’s Mason Library and Railroad Street Youth Project.
  • Great Barrington’s Community Preservation Committee votes unanimously to recommend funding of CCR’s grant proposal for restoration work on the church
  • The leaking roof is patched by volunteers with donated materials.
  • CCR’s 501c3 approval is received from the IRS.
  • Great Barrington-based Clark & Green Architects engaged to undertake Conditions Survey and Historic Structure Report.
  • Greenagers, an environmental education program that provides jobs for youth, helps CCR volunteers remove, clean, and store the church pews and other church belongings.
  • Fundraisers include a reenactment of the 1963 Civil Rights Roundtable at Dewey Hall in Sheffield and a Berkshire Playwrights Lab performance of Some Old Black Man at St. James Place in Great Barrington.
  • Filmed discussion of church memories with former congregants and others facilitated by Frances Jones-Sneed held at Simon’s Rock.
  • Local photographer Julie McCarthy documented the inside of the church.
  • CCR’s initial $100,000 fundraising goal was surpassed on March 30 (one day early).
  • Clinton Church Restoration closes on the purchase of the Clinton Church on May 31.
  • Former congregants and community members celebrate the 130th anniversary of the dedication of the church on February 6.
  • A public meeting and two design charrettes facilitated by interpretive master planner Veronica Jackson result in an internal Visioning Report for the board.
  • Fundraisers are held at Simon’s Rock College of Bard and Barnbrook Realty.
  • A benefit screening of the new James Baldwin documentary, I Am Not Your Negro, sells out twice at the Triplex Great Barrington.
  • $10,000 challenge grant from the W.E.B. Du Bois National Historic Site is met.

2016

  • Initial organizing meetings to save the former Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church are convened in Great Barrington in November.
  • Volunteers form Clinton Church Restoration with longtime Clinton Church member Wray Gunn as chair.
  • Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area (Housatonic Heritage) agrees to act as the fiscal agent for the project.
  • Clinton Church Restoration incorporates as a Massachusetts nonprofit.
  • A fundraising campaign to raise $100,000 to save the church begins.
  • The roof is patched by volunteers with the permission of the church’s owner.