The work of the Du Bois Freedom Center is progressing


The historic Clinton AME Zion Church being restored in 2021, now known as the Du Bois Freedom Center. Photo courtesy of Clinton Church Restoration.

Greater Barrington— Work continues to transform the historic Clinton AME Zion Church into the WEB Du Bois Freedom Center, with the organization behind the center announcing that it has hired Clark + Green Architects. According to a press release issued by the organization, Great Barrington has been contracted to complete the architectural and engineering plans for the building, which opened in 1887 at 9 Elm Court.

The WEB Du Bois Freedom Center during the “I have known rivers” event at the end of August. Photo by Shaw Israel Izikson.

Stabilization and roofing work on the building began in 2019 but was delayed by the discovery in 2020 of significant structural damage during work on the roof of the building, as well as another delay due to the Covid pandemic.

According to Eugénie Sills, acting executive director of the WEB Du Bois Freedom Center, the organization hopes to open the center’s doors within three to five years. “However, it all depends on fundraising and the availability of materials and manpower,” Sills wrote via email to The Berkshire Edge. “Covid has had a significant impact on both the funding environment and the construction industry, making it very difficult to confidently determine project completion dates. We will continue to offer programming , as we have done from the beginning, while the historic church is being renovated.”

Sills wrote that “this is a six-figure, multi-year project for Clark + Green” and that their team will include consultants from eight companies in addition to their company’s work.

Consultants will be drawn from Structures North Consulting Engineers, Landmark Facilities Group, Foresight Land Services, Walter Cudnohufsky Associates, Finch and Rose, Talevi and Haesche, the Jackson Design Group and Epsilon Associates.

“The current estimate [for total renovations to the building] is $5-7 million,” Sills wrote in his email. “This includes material and incidental costs for preservation, stabilization work upon completion, and the design, fabrication and installation of museum-quality exhibits.”

Sills wrote that the organization chose Clark + Green through a formal procurement process, which involved issuing a request for proposals, evaluating proposals against set criteria and a series of interviews. . “The selection committee and the organization’s board of directors believed that the Clark + Green team was the most qualified and able to undertake this work. The company’s familiarity with the project is an obvious plus, but was not the driving force.

Interior renovation at WEB Du Bois Center for Freedom in Great Barrington, Mass.
Renovations underway inside the WEB Du Bois Freedom Center in June 2022, with an illustration of the ultimate repurposing of space. Photo by Sawyer Bush.

Previously, Steve McAlister of Clark + Green compiled a historical structure report for the organization.

Sills wrote that the next phase of construction work on the building will be a structural stabilization project, which will go out to tender in early 2023. In the meantime, Sills said the organization would organize a fundraising campaign, as well as fundraising. events of the next few years.

A benefit concert for the organization titled “Exploring Roots Music” is scheduled for Sunday, October 9 at 7 p.m. at Dewey Hall and will include a performance by Jake Blount.

For more information go to organization website.

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