2 New Orleans Churches to Receive Grants from National Trust

WASHINGTON — The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund is awarding $4 million in its second round of Preserving Black Churches grants to 31 Black churches across the U.S. With over $95 million in funding, the Action Fund is a large U.S. resource dedicated to preserving historic African American places. Since launching Preserving Black Churches in 2022, the Action Fund has provided more than $9.8 million in grants to over 80 historic churches.  

“We created the Preserving Black Churches program to ensure the historic Black church’s legacy is told and secured. That these cultural assets can continue to foster community resilience and drive meaningful change in our society,” said Brent Leggs, executive director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. “We couldn’t be more excited to honor our second round of grantees and ensure that African Americans – and our entire nation – can enjoy an empowered future built on the inspiring foundations of our past.” 

Preserving Black Churches is a $20 million program that equips historic Black churches and their congregations with the resources and technical preservation expertise to protect the historic assets and legacies they steward. With this round’s grants ranging from $50,000 to $200,000, the Preserving Black Churches program helps congregations solve urgent and ongoing preservation threats such as deferred maintenance, insufficient funding, demolition, water filtration and mold contamination.

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“Black churches have been at the forefront of meaningful democratic reform since this nation’s founding. They’re a living testament to the resilience of our ancestors in the face of unimaginably daunting challenges,” said Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., historian and advisor to the Action Fund. “The heart of our spiritual world is the Black church. These places of worship, these sacred cultural centers, must exist for future generations to understand who we were as a people.”

With leadership support from Lilly Endowment Inc., the Action Fund advances strategies that model and strengthen historic Black churches’ stewardship and asset management, interpretation, and fundraising activities across the country. 

Two churches in New Orleans will receive grants: St. James AME Church and St. Augustine Catholic Church.

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Founded by a group of freedmen, St. James is said to be the oldest Black Protestant church in New Orleans. It served as the headquarters for the Louisiana Native Guards, Black Union soldiers during the Civil War, and was a staging site for marches during the Civil Rights movement. Funding will allow the church to make roof repairs that will stop 18 years of water intrusion in the upper sanctuary balcony and restore the church’s historic facade .

St. Augustine Catholic Church is a cornerstone of Black Catholicism in New Orleans, with a long history as the site of the first Catholic religious congregation created for and by African American women, Sisters of the Presentation, and Sisters of the Holy Family. Funding will support the rehabilitation of exterior masonry and interior plaster repairs.  

The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is committed to preserving and protecting places that illuminate the story of African American activism, achievement and resilience. In partnership with the Ford, Mellon, JPB and Lilly Endowment foundations, totaling more than $90 million in funding, the Action Fund stands as the largest U.S. resource dedicated to the preservation of African American historic places. 

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