A local and national landmark is in line for structural repairs and an addition. The Buffalo Niagara Freedom Coalition is proposing a capital improvements project for the Michigan Street Baptist Church at 511 Michigan Avenue in the African American Heritage Corridor. Structural repairs to the roof and walls plus an addition on the north side of the building are proposed. The church is currently used as a museum regarding the Underground Railroad history and the Light of the World Missions congregation utilizes the building through a perpetual use easement.
According to the application to the Preservation Board, the “existing structure of the building is in risk of total failure and collapse. The original roof trusses are undersized and cannot be replaced in kind.” The roof will be replaced with asphalt shingles once the repair work is done. “Significant” structural wall damage on the south side of the building will be repaired.
Grant funding from New York State will address accessibility issues. The addition on the north side of the building will provide access to the upper and lower levels of the church and will include accessible restrooms. The brick and stone veneer addition is meant to represent a typical structure that would have existed in the neighborhood. A connecting corridor set back between the two structures is a dark bronze color to fade into the background as an alleyway would. The National Park Service and State Historic Preservation Office have signed-off on the conceptual plans.
FoitAlbert Associates designed the project. It will join three other projects underway or planned nearby including the Nash Lofts mixed-use project to the north, the proposed addition to the Colored Musicians Club across the street, and the planned redevelopment of a vacant City-owned structure next to the church at 509 Michigan Avenue.