MACON, Ga. (AP) – Preservationists in Macon are opposing plans to demolish a historic downtown church to make room for a doughnut shop.
The congregation of the century-old Tremont Temple Baptist Church moved out of the brick building in 2007, saying problems with leaks, mold and termites had rendered it unusable for church services and too expensive to maintain. They plan to sell the building to a developer who has filed plans with the city to build a Dunkin Donuts on the church property.
“It would be a major loss if it’s torn down,” Josh Rogers, director of the Historic Macon Foundation, told WMAZ-TV. “Macon has too little African American architecture that has been saved. Once it’s gone, it’s irreplaceable.”
The Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission was scheduled to take up the developer’s plan to raze the church on Tuesday.
The church’s pastor, Camille Holmes, said in a written statement to the planning commission that congregation members are “praying for the sale” so they can put the money into their new church.
Church members say fixing problems at the old building would cost them $350,000 – roughly twice the church property’s appraised value.
“We need to sell it,” said Theresa Robinson, a church trustee. “ … It’s an old building. It’s not cost efficient for us.”
Robinson pointed out that Tremont Temple Baptist isn’t listed on official registers that give protection to threatened historic buildings. But Rogers of the Historic Macon Foundation said he believes the church should be off-limits for demolition because it’s a “contributing building” to Macon’s downtown historic district.
“To me, it’s never been a viable option for demolition,” Rogers said. “We really want to find a preservation-minded developer that could use it.”