Historic Palestine church on Texas ‘most endangered places’ list awarded $75,000 for repairs

Historic Palestine church on ‘Texas most endangered places’ list awarded $75,000 for repairs
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 4:45 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2023 at 8:40 PM CST
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PALESTINE, Texas (KLTV) - After eight years of restoring a historic church, an East Texas congregation is finally getting the help they need.

Mount Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church in Palestine is one step closer to reopening their doors with this $75,000 grant. The church had to close in 2014 due to structural issues. It was built in 1921 and is the third oldest AME church in Texas.

It has been added to Preservation Texas’ list of the most endangered places in the Lone Star State, also earning recognition as a Recorded Texas Historical Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“This has been such a long trying process. I didn’t know that it would take so much to save such an important building, an important church.” said Tabitha Enge.

Enge grew up going to this church with many others. She remembers singing in the choir at just five years old.

But since the closure in 2014, she has lead the effort to repair and preserve this historic building and started up the ‘Project Restoration.’

They have also gotten help from the city. Julie Abston, Chair of the Palestine Historic Preservation Commission has been a part of the process.

“It’s about people that really care about the Lord. It’s about keeping something that’s historic preserved, and about everybody coming together on this project.” said Abston.

Abston was made aware of the church back in the 90′s from another commissioner. She says the church was already experiencing damages during this time and was in the works to be preserved by the city.

But now, the Preservation Texas organization has awarded the church with the rural African American Heritage grant. Enge says the money will go towards fixing the roof, the walls, and will fix the flooring as there is still some foundation issues.

The building has stood here for 100 years. And with this help, Enge says it will be saved for another 100 years for many generations to come.

While Mount Vernon is being renovated, the congregation has their services in the Grant Chapel AME Church in Palestine.

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