BURLINGTON, Ohio (WSAZ) – In 1849, 37 enslaved African Americans were freed and sent to Ohio from Madison County, Virginia. They settled in Burlington, Ohio, and became known as Burlington 37. They joined a local congregation that had existed in the area since the 1790s. Their arrival doubled the church’s congregation and led to the construction of the Missionary Baptist Church of Macedonia.
The church housed an active congregation until the 1970s, but has remained virtually vacant since.
Lacy Ward Jr. is Macedonia Project Manager for the Appalachian Ohio Foundation. He is one of many involved in a restoration project to transform the historic church into a community center. The project recently received a boost in the form of a $12,000 grant from the Jeffris Family Foundation.
“First we want to study the building,” Ward said. “A historical structure report will tell us the condition of the building and how to repair the building.”
Ward says he has spoken with state-level officials and expects additional funds to be available next summer to begin repair work.
“If you want to have a special birthday party or if you want to organize a special conference, it will be available to rent from 2024,” he said.
It’s the beginning of a transformation to what it used to be – a focal point for the community and an important part of the story.
“Children want to know how we became the country we are today. It’s been one of those contributing stories that’s been alive since the 1790s. We hope the community will use it and come to embrace history and live among the ancestors,” Ward said.
Individual donations are accepted for this project. For more information, visit the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio website.
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