At the February meeting of the City of Poughkeepsie Historic District and Landmark Preservation Commission, the Smith Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church was nominated for designation as a local landmark deserving of preservation. Design historian and local resident Holly Wahlberg, alongside Associate Minister Desiree King, presented compelling arguments for preserving this historic site.

Wahlberg underscored the church’s profound significance in Poughkeepsie’s history, tracing its origins back to 1836 as a cornerstone of black spiritual life. Emphasizing its role in social activism and its likely ties to the Underground Railroad, Wahlberg advocated for its preservation amidst alarming rates of historic resource loss in the fifth Ward. 

Wahlberg also highlighted the church’s architectural significance, noting its Gothic Revival design by Poughkeepsie architect Dubois Carpenter. She emphasized the importance of securing a historic designation to honor the church’s legacy and access potential funding avenues for restoration efforts.

The members of the Commission thanked Wahlberg for her dedication to saving Poughkeepsie’s historic heritage. Wahlberg remarked that this would be the 31st landmark she has brought forth for designation in the City. 

King provided a narrative of the church’s evolution from its humble beginnings to its present-day location on Smith Street. Highlighting its resilience in the face of adversity, including fires and structural damage, she emphasized ongoing efforts to restore and revitalize the church’s facilities.

Expressing gratitude for community support, King conveyed optimism for the church’s future, envisioning a restored Smith Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church serving as a beacon in Poughkeepsie once more.

At the meeting, the Commission committed to placing a public comment period on their March meeting agenda for this nomination.

Facebook Comments

Enjoy having this local, independent, nonprofit news source? Help us keep reporting and become a member today. Already a member? Sign in to get rid of this notice.