RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The City of Richmond has reversed its stance on the demolition of a historic church in Monroe Ward, saying the tear-down can go ahead despite an outcry from preservation groups.
The Second Baptist Church was built in 1906 by prominent local architect William C. Noland. It’s currently owned by Historic Hotels of Richmond, proprietors of the Jefferson Hotel.
The building is included in the National Register of Historic Places, but that hasn’t stopped its owners from seeking permission to demolish the aging building, which has not served as a church in decades.
Now the city says the demolition can go forward – because city council authorized it thirty years ago.
According to a city official, an application for demolition was originally submitted in 1992 to the Commission of Architectural Review. They denied the petition – but city council overruled them, giving them the greenlight later that year.
“Our cursory review of the facts led us to assume that such [approval] was invalid given the significant lapse in time,” said Dr. Kevin J. Vonck, Director of the city planning department. “After more extensive legal analysis, however, the City Attorney’s office has concluded that the 1992 [approval] is still valid.”
Unless the city council votes to revoke their thirty-year-old authorization, that means the company can move forward with demolition.
Historic Richmond is one of the groups opposing the demolition.
“We’ve reached out to the Jefferson Hotel and its owners informally and formally with offers to partner with them to assist with the adaptive reuse of the second Baptist Church building,” said Cyane Crump, Executive Director of Historic Richmond. “We were rebuffed.”
At a press conference on Feb. 11, Crump urged Richmonders to contact their city council members and the owners of the Jefferson Hotel to speak up against the demolition.