By: Robin Grant | The Winsor Star 12/20/11
AMHERSTBURG, Ont. — A piece of Amherstburg’s history is sinking. The small Amherstburg First Baptist Church on George Street, built by former slaves in 1849, has been out of commission since Nov. 29.
It was in September that Pastor Olaniyi Afolabi and his wife, Abiola, a contractor and mortgage broker in Windsor, noticed that the floor had detached from the baseboard because the church is sinking. “We knew we had a problem,” Abiola said. The sinking, she said, is caused because the church is at a lower grade than the surrounding houses. This causes rainwater to pool under the structure and the ground to soften.
When Abiola called the town and insurance company, both said they couldn’t help with the renovations. But the trouble didn’t stop there. After an inspector advised them to cut a hole in the floor, they discovered that some of the original oak beams that support the building were rotten and had broken in half. A few weeks later, the building was deemed unsafe and ordered to close.
The Afolabis, who buy and restore old houses in Windsor, said they expected the decision. But they’re worried that as the building is left unrepaired, greater, irreparable damage will occur to parts of the church with historical significance. “It’s a part of the Canadian historic site, so it’s what every Canadian can rally around to save,” Olaniyi Afolabi said.
Church services were moved to the Amherstburg Food & Fellowship Mission with the possibility of using the Nazrey AME Church at the North American Black Historical Museum.
The Afolabis are asking for donations to help repair the church. The First Baptist Church has set up an account at TD Canada Trust. Donors can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 519-988-6725 or 519-736-4646 for information.
Tax receipts can be issued for donations of $20 or more.
“We are expecting that the public will give us a hand to get the church into a normal state of health,” Olaniyi Afolabi said.
Source: Winsor Star
NOTE: This is the church that my ancestor Anthony Binga Sr. established in the 1840’s as a UGRR mission. This church is going to be designated as a National Historic Site and Anthony Binga Sr. will be plaqued by the Parks of Canada in the near future.