Campaign to move Fugitive Slave Chapel sees $5,000 donation from Diocese of London – London

A campaign to raise funds to move London’s historic fugitive slave chapel to Fanshawe Pioneer Village and restore it for future generations received a $5,000 boost from the Diocese of London on Thursday.

The donation comes as the campaign seeks to close the gap to its ultimate goal of $300,000, and village officials say they are now more than halfway there.

Bishop Ronald P. Fabbro, CSB Bishop of London, visited the village on Thursday to present a check to Carl Cadogan and Christina Lord of the Steering Committee, and Tom Peace, Chairman of the FPV Board.

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February 1, 2022: Campaign launched to fund relocation of Fugitive Slave Chapel to Fanshawe Pioneer Village

“We’ve done quite a bit of grassroots campaigning, as well as fundraising, to support the relocation and restoration of the village chapel,” Dawn Miskelly, executive director of Fanshawe Pioneer Village, said Friday.

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“We sent a lot of letters to the community. One of the areas we sent letters to was about different faith groups. … We received a call in March, I think it was, from the diocese, just to contact us to say that they were looking to support the project.

In a statement, Fabbro said he was grateful the donation would allow future generations to learn more about the chapel and the role it and other chapels played in helping those fleeing slavery in the United States to settle after arriving in Canada.

“We are grateful to have the opportunity to support this worthy project to help preserve the history of Black communities that have existed in southwestern Ontario for two centuries,” he said.

A clipping from the May 8, 1926 edition of the London Advertiser showing the former African Methodist Episcopal Church on Thames Street. The church, also known as the Fugitive Slave Chapel, was moved in 2014.

Ivey Family London Room, London Public Library

Originally the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the chapel was erected in 1848 at 275 Thames St., serving as a sanctuary for African Americans who had escaped slavery in the United States through the Underground Railroad and who had built homes in what is now SoHo.

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The chapel later became the British Methodist Episcopal Church in 1856 and was replaced by a new church on Gray Street in 1869, according to the London Public Library. Abolitionist John Brown is said to have spoken at the Thames Street Chapel in 1858, a year before his ill-fated raid on the Harpers Ferry Armory in Virginia to start a slave rebellion, according to the library.

The old chapel remained on Thames Street and was used as a private residence for decades. In 2013 the building was spared the wrecking ball after a community outcry, and in 2014 was lifted and slowly trucked to its current home on Gray Street.

The campaign to move the chapel began earlier this year, months after it was unveiled in August 2021 that the British Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada, which owns the building, had entered into talks with Fanshawe Pioneer Village to donate the chapel so that it can be moved and preserved.

Village officials said at the time that the chapel was at risk of further deterioration if action was not taken quickly to preserve the structure. The hope is to carefully move the building and restore it to how it was when it was first built.

“I am very optimistic that we will be able to move before winter. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work going on right now to get permission to move the building,” Miskelly said, adding that a final date will depend on when that behind-the-scenes work is completed.

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“Due to the heritage designation where it is located, we are working on the heritage alteration permit to relocate it to the village,” she continued.

“We are working on our donation agreement letter to send to the church and we have started the architectural drawings so that we have them to submit with our heritage alteration permit, but also so that we can start reviewing the works that must occur in the church. village in preparation for the move of the chapel.

Read more:

April 8, 2022: ‘Time is running out’: Councilors consider grant to save London Fugitive Slave Chapel

So far, the project has raised more than $150,000 from the community, and hopes are afoot that a federally run matching funds program can help take the campaign to the next level. above its target.

In April, London City Council unanimously approved a motion asking City Hall to provide a $71,000 campaign grant through the City’s Community Investment Reserve Fund.

Thanks to the donation from the diocese, the city grant and other contributions, the campaign surpassed the 50% mark, making it eligible for the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund.

“We can request up to 50% of eligible expenses for the project, and the amount granted depends on what they have in the fund, as they receive many requests,” Miskelly said.

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“We hope, fingers crossed, that we will have some support from this program. We have requested around 50% of project costs that are eligible, and we will see what happens to that.

Miskelly said the project’s application for funding is under review and officials hope to hear more about its status in the coming weeks.

“The project as a whole – we’re thrilled to see all the community support we’re getting from it. This donation is an example, and we really hope to have more good news to share as our campaign progresses .

Information on how to donate to the campaign is available on the London Community Foundation website. Corporate or community groups looking to contribute directly to the Fanshawe Pioneer Village can contact Miskelly by email at [email protected]

— with files by Sawyer Bogdan

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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