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D.C. Church Heads National List Of Endangered Sites

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The group of free and enslaved African-Americans formed the congregation of Metropolitan AME Church in 1821.  The building on M Street was built in 1886.
Jonathan Wilson
The group of free and enslaved African-Americans formed the congregation of Metropolitan AME Church in 1821. The building on M Street was built in 1886.

By Jonathan Wilson

A small, historically black church just blocks away from the White House sits at the top of this year's list of the country's most endangered historic places.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation calls the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church the national cathedral for African Methodism.

The gothic-style church, built in 1886, hosted the funerals of both Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks -- but now the structure, on the 1500 block of M street, is covered inside and out with scaffolding -- to necessitate emergency repairs.

Richard Moe, president of the National Trust, says full restoration and stabilization will cost $11 million, much more than the congregation can raise by itself.

"That's why we put this on the list, because they need a lot of help," Moe says. "This is one of the most significant churches in America. It's part of our shared history and we need to help them."

Also on the list of 11 sites is nearby Wilderness Civil War battlefield in Orange County, Virginia. The trust says plans for retail development near the field threaten it's future.

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