Frederick Douglass’ Church Joins Endangered List

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WASHINGTON — When chunks of plaster began falling from the ceiling of the national cathedral of African Methodism last year, one of Washington’s oldest black congregations nearly had to abandon its sanctuary.

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Instead, the people of Metropolitan A.M.E. Church — where member Frederick Douglass gave his last speech in 1894 and where a pew bears his name — have begun emergency repairs. They brought in scaffolding to block falling debris, and now they worship under yellow construction lights.

On Wednesday, the church that also hosted Rosa Parks’ funeral was among the sites named America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places because it needs $11 million in critical but unaffordable repairs. Also, for the first time, one of the spots on the list was reserved for all state parks and state-owned historic places in the country, as a nod to the widespread budget cuts threatening such sites.

Metropolitan A.M.E., an 1886 red brick Victorian Gothic-style church, deteriorated over time. Once among the largest integrated meeting halls in the segregated nation’s capital, it suffered cracks and water damage as its residential neighborhood a few blocks from the White House was swallowed by downtown development.

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