Church Awarded Renovation Money

Vancouver Baptist Church
Vancouver Baptist Church

The Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church is pleased to announce its Capital Campaign Improvement Project to renovate its lower level spaces of their Historic Church site listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Through this endeavor, the church is committed to fostering community livability and greater communal participation among its neighbors, by connecting cultural engagements, along with providing adequate spaces for educational programs for youth, and social service programs offered by the church.

On the 7th of June, Prosper Portland awarded the renovation project $62,500 through its Livability Grant Program to support the capital improvements; other grant opportunities are being sourced to support the project. This vibrant venture includes a major renovation of the Public Assembly Fellowship Hall; and once finished, the hall will be one of the largest venue spaces available in the heart of North Portland community for rental for weddings, receptions, company gatherings or meetings, bar/bat Mitzvahs, workshops, rehearsals, or community performances. A community conference hall will also be designed and made available to community groups and small non-profits looking for a meeting place.

Future history room
Future history installation at Vancouver Baptist

Other property improvements include the enhancements of an enlarged commercial grade kitchen area, the  redevelopment of the public entrances, Two ADA Restrooms, the installation of two educational classrooms designated for the afterschool iUrban Teen Program, and the installation of the first Portland permanent exhibition hall that features the history of African Americans in Portland and the Albina area; a 900-square foot museum that seeks to highlight, and bring to understanding American history through the lens of the local African American experience. The museum will become a popular educational spot for local school field trips, and tourists visiting Portland.

The renovation project has many community supporters that include; Legacy Emanuel Hospital, Oregon Black Pioneers, Travel Portland, New Seasons Market, Portland Public Schools, Portland Parks Bureau, The LINKS, Inc, the World Arts Foundation, Inc., Avalon Flowers, Vanport Mosaic Project, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Portland State University Black Studies Department, and many others.

The Church’s Preservation/Renovation Committee will lead this project and is being designed by the architectural team of Propel Studio in Northeast Portland. The project is being spearheaded by Raymond Burell III as project coordinator, and Senior Pastor of the Church and Community Advocate, J.W. Matt Hennessee.

The church’s intention is to be an illuminated agent of the neighborhood’s vitality, preservation, and revitalization during an era of rapid change that includes trendy restaurants, art galleries and upscale housing developments. As Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church, flanked by new development along Williams and Vancouver avenues, is one of the last standing monuments to Portland’s once-vibrant African-American community in the 1940s and 1950s, and this renovation project will have significant public benefit by preserving historic physical resources and it will also support human resources in the underserved region of Portland. Historically, black churches are a central institution for the black community, and this church and its restoration project will represent an enthusiastic and energetic approach to the livability of the neighborhood and city.

For More Information:

Raymond Burell III

By Raymond Burrell