Renovation Project Details

Historic Mother Emanuel AMEC Foundation (501c3)

Historical Buildings and Renovations

Church Renovation Project Overview

We cherish historical buildings. We use them for years. As years wear on and with the best maintenance available, these precious gems carry the burden of time, roof leaks, termite infestations, and age. The 129-year-old building that provides the spiritual home of the 203-year-old congregation of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church needs significant repairs and renovations.
The church hired engineers, an architect, and a contractor to determine costs and plans to renovate the church. The expenses came back at 6.2 million dollars, including a contingency of 1 million dollars for the repairs and renovations. The contingency represented a reserve amount to cover any unknown costs that may occur during construction.
Apart from the contingency reserves, the project cost of 5 million dollars must be raised from the congregation of four hundred members who are primarily individuals over sixty years old and the community. The eight trusses supporting the roof and the ceiling make up the majority of the cost. Restrooms must become ADA compliant, especially the men’s room which will not accommodate a wheelchair. The choir vacated the choir loft because of deteriorated structural members under the choir loft section of the balcony.
The church received a $250,000 matching grant from the National Fund for Sacred Places. The church must raise $500,000 to receive the grant.  Also, the church received a $150,000 grant for the renovations from the African American Cultural Heritage Action Grant.
After the murder of nine members of the congregation on June 17, 2015, the world poured out its heart and generous donations of $3,400,000. Of those funds $1,500,000 was given to the families of the victims. In addition, some of the funds were designated for specific projects of the church such as repairs to the parking lot, a memorial fund, and scholarships along with some immediate repairs such as the abatement of the termite infestation.  Of those funds the church has $660,000 left to apply to this project. The fundraising efforts for the repairs and renovations continue with an active Congregation Campaign Committee and a Community Fundraising Committee writing letters, calling, and asking for pledges and donations to the project.

Renovation in progress

Lower-level work, shoring in the sanctuary and choir loft area.  For the full video, please see the media page.

History and restoration of Historic pipe organ

The current pipe organ of Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was installed in 1908. The organ was originally installed as a tracker instrument and the air was supplied by hand pumping which was common during the period. The console was built into the original case still in place today. There are indications that the original instrument was made by the Kimball Organ Company of Chicago.
The organ was rebuilt in the 1930s by Howard Sheehan of Savannah, GA. The rebuild was commonplace during that era when it was converted from a tracker organ to elector-pneumatic action and an electric blower was added. At that time the current console replaced the original for improved control.
Since 1975, various portions of the organ have been conserved and/or restored. Nothing was altered from its second incarnation. As some portions failed and funds became available, various systems were returned to working order over the ensuing 25 years. The power, beauty, and unique sound of the instrument have “sung” in this sanctuary for 113 years. With proper care, it can continue for another 100 years and beyond. The organ has perishable parts, such as leather that wear out but can be replaced. If the pipes are intact, the organ can continue indefinitely.
Due to the impending renovations to the sanctuary, it is necessary to remove the entire organ from the balcony (pipes and console). The console is completely worn out and must be replaced. The church has secured the expertise of the Cornel Zimmer Organ Builders. The company will replace the console, restore the current pipes, and add additional pipes and stops for additional voicing. The enhanced sound will fill the sanctuary that will last for years to come.
The cost of this major organ restoration is $377,515.00. We are soliciting your support for our organ restoration project. We are looking forward to hearing our beloved pipe organ again in our historic sanctuary. Music is at the heart of who we are, and we look forward to moving forward with this campaign to raise funds to complete this project-a project that will benefit the entire Charleston community.
The pipe organ of Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church holds precious memories for its membership. The organ permeates the hearts and minds of those who come to worship. Our pipe organ plays an important role in the church’s outreach to the wider community in sacred concerts, music, and other musical and cultural programs throughout the community.

paper here has been used to temporarily make them function
paper here has been used to temporarily make them function
Pipes being fit onto their new wind chests
Pipes being fit onto their new wind chests
Pipes need repacked with new leather to seal properly
Pipes need repacked with new leather to seal properly
Revoicing the 8’ Open Diapason
Revoicing the 8’ Open Diapason
Pipework is leaning due to improper racking
Pipework is leaning due to improper racking
New walnut organ console is taking shape!
New walnut organ console is taking shape

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Historic Mother Emanuel AMEC Foundation
110 Calhoun St
Charleston SC 29401