Excerpt from MyEasternShoreMD:

…the commission approved the demolition of a former church at 328 Cannon St.

At its December meeting, the commission tabled the applicant’s request in order to determine the building’s historic significance as a church with a predominantly black congregation in what was historically an African American neighborhood.

The property owner plans to install a parking at the back of the lot and plant a pocket park out front.

Jo Anne Baker of Torchio Architects, Centreville, appearing for the applicant, summarized her findings on the building’s architecture and history. The entire building, parts of which date from about 1920, is in extremely poor condition, she said. Also, she said, there is nothing of architectural or historical significance about the structure.

McGuire said that, while the building’s condition makes it impossible to save, its removal would alter the historic streetscape. She said she was concerned that it would be another step in the gentrification of a historically black community.

Commissioner Susanne Cole, who also serves as executive director of the Historical Society of Kent County, said the cultural and social significance of the house is the issue at hand. She summarized the historical society’s research on the property, which belonged to several members of the same family before being remodeled as a church.

Cole suggested putting a plaque outlining the house’s history in the park. She also suggested that archaeological work be conducted at the time of demolition.

The historical society would be able to help the applicant find grant funds to appropriately document its history, Cole said.

The commission approved the demolition contingent upon an archaeological survey and some sort of display recognizing the history of the community of which the house was a part.

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