Challenge over demolition: Community protests hotel’s plan to raze historic church

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – The 116-year life of a historic Richmond church may be coming to an end, thanks to a 30-year-old permit, but community members are increasingly vocal to save the vacant structure .

Voices were crying, “Save Second Baptist. Save Second Baptist,” outside the steps of 13 W. Franklin Street Friday night.

Defenders of local and architectural history waged another neighborhood war to prevent the building’s owners – owners of the Jefferson Hotel – from razing it for “landscaping”.

A planning official recently said he would honor a 30-year-old demolition permit to allow the church to be removed, after the hotel owners first applied for it in 1992.

“It’s really important that we preserve this and the stories that are attached to treasures like this,” Jennie Dotts said in defiance of demolition plans.

Dotts said the hotel owners had “no right to demolish anything that is in a historic part of town.”

She added that the church is “one of the characteristic buildings of the city. We don’t want to see him go.

The Second Baptist Church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and would require special approval from the Architectural Review Board and the city council to remove it.

The current commission has just reaffirmed what it said in 1992: do not demolish the building, first, “all other alternatives must be exhausted.

“It’s an extraordinary job. It’s so architecturally correct,” Daniela Patterson-Shew said of the church.

Unless the city council decides to revoke the original demolition permit, hypothetically, dismantling could occur.

8News contacted a representative for the Jefferson Hotel and received no response. Given that the protest began after regular evening business hours, 8News acknowledges that the representative may not have been able to respond in time for this story to be published.

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