Civil Rights site seeks funds for restoration

Civil+Rights+site+seeks+funds+for+restoration

Mike Finnegan

The famous Colored Masonic Temple, a historic civil rights building, is currently raising $10 to $15 million to complete a massive restoration project.

In one of his last moves as president, Barack Obama made several civil rights sites in Birmingham, Alabama national monuments. This included, among other sites, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park, the 16th Street Baptist Church and several areas on the 4th Avenue Business District.

Built in 1924, the Masonic Temple stood as a refuge for African Americans in segregated downtown Birmingham. Throughout its history, the building served as a venue for music greats such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie, as well as a meeting place for civil rights activists. The NAACP had an office located in the building, the Freedom Riders took refuge inside and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth organized protests there, according to AL.com.

Due to the building’s national monument status, the project hopes to see funds come in from the National Parks Service. AL.com reports that $600,000 for asbestos and lead paint abatement has been granted to the project from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, thanks to the efforts of Birmingham City Councilor William Parker. The project hopes to see $3 or $4 million in its coffers by June in order to hire an architect for the restoration. 

Until then, a GoFundme with an end goal of $50,000 was started to help get the project underway.