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100-Year Old Covington Church Razed

Long a part of the fabric of Covington's Eastside neighborhood, a 100-year-old church building on Lynn Street has been demolished.

The St. James African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church was brought down this week.

“Unfortunately, we were advised by a structural engineer that our main sanctuary roof trusses have failed,” said Ella Frye, a church trustee. “And major portions of the building needed to be demolished.”

The church’s history began in 1869, when Covington resident Martha Ann Taylor began gathering neighborhood residents in her home for religious services. A number of locations were then utilized for worship including places in Covington’s neighborhood of Austinburg, a home on Maryland Avenue and a home on E. Ninth Street. With Taylor’s efforts, the congregation grew and on May 25, 1919, the cornerstone for the now-demolished church building was set into place.

It was the worship place of prominent Covington physician James Randolph, and B.F. Howard, founder of the international organization the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World.

In early 2019, St. James announced the launch of its “Building Bridges” Development Campaign created to support the congregation’s commitment to its community. The campaign went on to launch its GoFundMe campaign, which is seeking to raise $10,000 from the community. In all, the church members said thar they will need at least $250,000 to envision a new church building.

"At a time when there is so much darkness in this world, our little church is a vessel for God's light. Please help us to raise the funds needed to rebuild," a message on the crowdfunding site states.

“This is an exciting era for St. James,” said Frye. “It’s fueled by amazing new experiences across all aspects of our lives. Moving forward, St. James wants to lead the way in spreading His Word. Our congregation is small and has moved worship services across the street at our banquet hall, Randolph Hall. St. James will continue to worship across the street at 121 Lynn Street and we are appealing to our community leaders, citizens, members, friends and families to assist us to rebuild on site.”

St. James is seeking professional advice and financial aid and would greatly appreciate any support. Please contact persons Tony Frye or Ella Frye at (859) 663-7323 or [email protected].

Written by Kareem Simpson, RCN contributor