D.C. houses of worship compete for preservation funds

By Adelle M. Banks

WASHINGTON (RNS) Four Washington houses of worship are in the running to receive preservation grants in a campaign launched Wednesday (April 24) by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

District of Columbia-area residents can vote online through May 10 at the Partners in Preservation website for their favorite among 24 historic buildings and landmarks, which are in the running for $1 million in funding. They include the Washington National Cathedral, for post-earthquake interior work; All Souls Church Unitarian, for renovation of a bell tower crafted by the son of Paul Revere; and Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church and Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, both of which have stained glass windows in need of renovation.

Other D.C.-area contenders include the dining room at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, the popular Iwo Jima Marine Corps memorial and Congressional Cemetery.

American Express has committed $9 million to the initiative, which has aided historic landmarks in seven other cities since 2006.

“We’ve had great success engaging religious site communities,” said Caitlin Lowie, spokeswoman for American Express. “Three cities had religious institutions be the top vote winner.”

In 2006, First Church of Christ, Scientist in Berkeley, Calif., won the popular vote in the San Francisco Bay Area. In the 2011 Twin Cities competition, the Basilica of St. Mary was the most popular. And last year, Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, N.Y., was one of the top vote-getters in the New York City campaign and was awarded $250,000 for restoration of its stained glass windows.

Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the Washington-based National Trust for Historic Preservation, said the campaign’s goal is “for everyday citizens to cast votes for places that they care about and to kind of vote with their feet about which places in their community they value the most.”

Adelle M. Banks is production editor and a national correspondent at RNS.

Source: www.religionnews.com

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