Mold and termites did damage during pandemic shutdown

Like religious congregants all over, the people of historic Brown Chapel AM Church turned off the lights and locked the doors at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic because it wasn’t safe to gather for worship with a deadly virus circulating, reports Associated Press. For a time, the landmark church that launched a national voting rights movement in Selma, Alabama, was off limits.

What members found when they returned was heartbreaking: Termites had eaten so much wood that parts of the structure weren’t stable anymore, said member Juanda Maxwell, and water leaks damaged walls. Mold was growing in parts of the building, where hundreds met before Alabama state troopers attacked voting rights demonstrators on Bloody Sunday in 1865 at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

“It’s in horrible shape,” Maxwell said. “It’s a tough time. Because we were closed for a year it exacerbated the problem with water coming in.”

The red brick church, with distinctive twin bell towers and a domed ceiling, tops this year’s list of the nation’s most endangered historic places, according to the Washington, D.C.-based, National Trust for Historic Preservation, a nonprofit organization which works to highlight and preserve sites that are in danger of being lost. 

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