By Jonathan D. Epstein Published April 22, 2020
The Michigan Street Baptist Church, one of the anchors of the African-American Heritage Corridor, is poised to get some much-needed renovations. Empire State Development Corp., the state's economic development arm, last week approved a grant of up to $900,000 to the Buffalo Niagara Freedom Station Coalition, which was formed in 2001 to protect and promote Buffalo's oldest African-American church. Work on the $1.28 million project is expected to begin this summer, to preserve long-term structural integrity and address safety issues, while also providing better access for disabled visitors. The project will include just over $500,000 in structural renovations, including foundation repairs and roof reinforcement, plus nearly $345,000 in accessibility renovations. Additional funding will come from a $375,000 grant from the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Located at 511 Michigan Ave., the church was built by African Americans in 1845, and was the last stop on the Underground Railroad for Southern slaves escaping to freedom in Canada before the Civil War. It's been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974.