Councilwoman Sexton Smith announces Historic Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church approved for federal restoration grants

August 24, 2020

Louisville - Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith (D-4) announces Historic Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church has received the official okay for nearly $1 million in federal grants to stabilize and restore the building that once hosted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the early days of the Civil Rights Movement.

“For more than 130 years, Quinn Chapel has been a historic marker of the changing times in Louisville. Its unique design will now show future generations that the road of justice and social equality is a never ending goal that we all must strive to achieve,” says Councilwoman Sexton Smith.

The African American Civil Rights (AACR) Grant Program notified the city of approval for $950,000 in funding to preserve and stabilize the Church located at 912 W. Chestnut Street. The AACR Grant Program supports the survey, documentation, interpretation, and preservation of sites that are associated with the African American struggle to gain equal rights as citizens in the 20th Century.

AACR Grants are funded by the Historic Preservation Fund, administered by the National Park Service (NPS), for a broad range of preservation projects.

Built in 1884, the Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church was designed by Henry Wolters, local Louisville architect, in the Gothic Revival Style. The front of the church features a central section with two towers, each three stories tall, that have lost their steeples. The exterior of the church is built with red brick and decorative terra cotta details. Inside, the church has an open hall two-stories in height. Wolters combined the sanctuary with the older church on the site.

It’s Quinn Chapel’s role in the Civil Rights Movement, which ultimately led to grant approval. While serving as a place of worship in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, it was a local meeting place for activists who were fighting for desegregation and fair housing. In April 1961, Dr. King visited Louisville to support the desegregation movement. While in town, he gave a lecture at Quinn Chapel addressing more than 1,000 people including the high school students who were conducting sit-ins with parents, pastors, and others around the city.

The building is owned by the YMCA of Greater Louisville. The YMCA purchased the property in 2002 with the goal of expanding their adjacent Chestnut Street campus.

The grant funding will cover major repairs to Quinn Chapel including roof repair, gutter work and stabilization of the brick and mortar sides and foundation of the building. The plan covers refurbishing the Chapel’s historic windows and moving forward with storm windows as part of its weatherization.

“For many generations, Quinn Chapel A.M.E. was where a community found its voice and now the time has come to preserve its place as an inspirational reminder of what can be achieved when we understand our history,” says Councilwoman Sexton Smith.

To see the official approval letter for the Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church Masonry Stabilization Project, go to: