Church ablaze

Flames damaged the steeple of a former church in the Holy Corners neighborhood in St. Louis on Oct. 26. The site is the future location of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame-Missouri, which will include a gospel music education center.

The steeple of the former Second Baptist Church at 500 North Kingshighway, the future home of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame-Missouri, was damaged by flames Oct. 26.

Located in the Central West End neighborhood Holy Corners, it is a Missouri Alliance of Historic Preservation site and part of nine buildings that comprise the Holy Corners National Register of Historic Places District.

“We are saddened but not deterred over this unfortunate incident,” the Gospel Music Hall of Fame-Missouri Monica Butler said. “We are moving forward with this historic project which will enrich this community on so many levels. We’re just grateful no one was hurt in the fire and that the heroic firefighters of the St. Louis City Fire Department were able to contain the fire and limit the damage.”

Alderwoman Heather Navaro called the scene “devastating.”

“The community will rally around the protection of this historic and sacred space, and if anyone can restore the grandeur of the church out of the ashes, it will be the inspiring vision of Monica Butler,” Navaro said.

State Sen. Karla May (D, 4th Ward) said the site has special meaning to her.

“It was the beginning for my church Grow 2 Go Christian Center (formerly St. Louis Christian Center) in 1993,” she said. “I am still excited at the prospect of it being restored because the structure has been a quiet treasure of beauty in the community.”

The $22 million dollar renovation project is slated to include a soundstage, interactive exhibits, a café and an event space. Working with Butler are developer Steve Smith of The Lawrence Group, and the Hall of Fame-Missouri president Lin Woods. 

“The renovation of this historic church into a cultural arts, entertainment and gospel music education center will create jobs, spin off businesses and bring much needed economic opportunities to this community and the St. Louis region as it becomes a national tourist destination,” Woods said. 

For additional information on the renovation, visit www.mogospel.com.

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