The demolition of Jefferson Avenue Baptist
left me stunned. My surprise at its quick demise was
due to its condition when I first found it. A friend
and myself first came upon the church in early winter
of 2004. We were not positive if the building was
vacant. The door was open and we made our way in.
Giving the building a look over we came upon opposite
ends of the condition spectrum. Some parts looked
like that the occupants had only stepped out for a
few minutes. Paperwork still sat on the minister's
desk. The library was still neatly stacked with books.
China and donated canned goods filled the kitchen
cupboards. The sanctuary was impressive, with all
pews and fixtures intact. On the other hand, some
of the classrooms looked like a bomb had gone off
I didn't have my camera with me that
day. We returned two weeks later and were horrified
to discover the work of scrappers. Most of the pews
had been smashed to bits. Two pairs of the light fixtures
were gone. The kitchen and library were ransacked.
As we were ready to leave a pair of white men arrived,
mumbling racist remarks as they surveyed the facility.
I left with the fear that the church was quickly meeting
the fate of St. Cyril. When I returned a week later
to find it properly secured with a posted warning
to the thieves my fears were subsided. It seemed someone
cared and had plans for the building.
The building was unexpectedly demolished
in the spring of 2005. I guess no one cared after
all. It is an unfortunate loss to the neighborhood,
the church was one of the better buildings around.
However, I must acknowledge the difficulty for adaptive
reuse of such structures, particularly one with areas
of such deterioration. I don't know what is planned
for the site but I hope it is something more substantial