Louisville Metro Government (LMG) has been awarded a $450,000 grant by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service to stabilize the former Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church at 912 W. Chestnut Street. LMG’s Office of Redevelopment Strategies has added $150,000 to the stabilization effort bringing the stabilization investment to $600,000.
In 2002, the property was sold to the YMCA, which has a Chestnut Street location just west of the Church, and it has remained vacant. In 2010 and 2011, the YMCA invested $400,000 for stabilization that included a new roof for the Church and support beams as well as brick repair. The current Quinn Chapel AME Church congregation resides at 1901 W. Muhammad Ali Boulevard.
“In its many years, Quinn Chapel has played a vital role to the Russell neighborhood and in the fight for civil rights in our city. The fight for equity and improved quality of life for all Louisville residents is a fight that goes on today,” Jeana Dunlap, Director of the Office of Redevelopment Strategies said. “The city and YMCA value its importance and want to preserve its legacy for future generations to come.”
“With the new interest and investment in west Louisville, it is appropriate that Quinn Chapel stand and represent the rich heritage of the community and serve as a gateway into the area’s renewed future,” Steve Tarver, President & CEO of YMCA of Greater Louisville, said.
The Church was built in 1884 and originally housed the Chestnut Street Baptist Church until 1910 when it was purchased by the Quinn Chapel AME Church. Quinn Chapel takes its name from Bishop Paul Quinn, who was the fourth bishop of the AME Church and the first to visit Kentucky. The Church was a focal point for the civil rights movement in Louisville in the 1960s. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the Church in April 1961. It was the starting point of nightly marches for open housing in 1967 and the reason for Dr. King’s second visit to Louisville.
Quinn Chapel has retained its integrity in design, materials and craftsmanship. The eastern steeple has been removed but original stained glass windows and decorative masonry features are still intact. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Essential repairs needed include installing a new roof for the rear portion of the building, stabilizing walls, repairing foundation, repointing mortar joints and repairing subflooring.
After stabilization, the city and YMCA will seek future redevelopment partners to bring back life to this historic structure. Quinn Chapel is a prominently featured structure on the southwest corner of 9th & Chestnut within eyeshot of the future mixed-use, mixed-income redevelopment of Beecher Terrace. Due to its proximity to 9th Street, the Church’s redevelopment will also benefit from the city’s Reimagine 9th Street plan, which will be complete in 2018.