As we celebrate National Black History Month, Epsilon Associates is honored to announce that it has been selected to provide historic preservation guidance for the Du Bois Freedom Center, and is pleased to offer additional information on the center and its history.
The Du Bois Freedom Center will be located at the former Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church, a historic African American Church in Great Barrington, Mass. The Center will convert the church to a history museum and cultural center dedicated to the life and legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois, the civil rights activist, founding member of the NAACP, sociologist, historian, and 20th century luminary. He was born and spent his formative years in Great Barrington, attending services at the church. The W.E.B. Du Bois Freedom Center will become the first museum devoted to African American history in the Berkshires.
The Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church in Great Barrington was at the heart of the African American community in the area of for roughly 130 years, providing religious services as well as community meetings and gatherings. It was also the site of political activities during the Civil Rights Movement. The A.M.E. Zion Society built the church in 1886-87. The shingle-style church is architecturally significant as an example of 19th-century church architecture. Over time, the decreasing membership of the parish led to the Church’s closure in 2014, and the building began to deteriorate, but it remains significant to the history of Great Barrington.
In recent years, former members of the parish and others have banded together to give the building a new purpose as an African American history museum and cultural center honoring both African American history in the Berkshires and the legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois. Stabilization work on the building has already occurred, and architectural plans are being finalized.
Epsilon, working alongside the project architect Clark + Green Architecture Design, will assist this important project by providing technical historic preservation guidance including compliance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, and amending the National Register of Historic Places Nomination for the property.
We are grateful for the opportunity to help bring new life to this historic building, supporting the project’s goal of honoring African American history in the region and the legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois.
For more information on the W.E.B. Du Bois Center for Freedom and Democracy and the former Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church, go to: https://www.duboisfreedomcenter.org/
Brian Lever has more than 20 years of experience in architectural history, archaeology and preservation planning. Mr. Lever provides assistance to clients in meeting regulatory requirements through consultation with state and federal agencies and the preparation of historic preservation compliance documentation. He has experience in implementing Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, and related local, state, and federal environmental laws, regulations, and guidelines affecting historic resources. An Associate with the firm, Mr. Lever has additional expertise in state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits and formerly was the Senior Preservation Planner for the City of Newton.