ST. LOUIS – A project in the works will bring Gospel Music Hall of Fame of Missouri to a historic church on North Kingshighway in Central West End and bring gospel music back to these walls.
“This building, in particular, has housed some of the greatest gospel singers and legends,” Yolanda Yancie, a board member for Gospel Music Hall of Fame of Missouri and the St. Louis City 18th ward committeewoman said.
The plan is to turn the church into the hall of fame, with a cafe and event space, where people can explore and learn about Missouri’s rich history of gospel music.
The more than 100-year-old building has been through a lot. Early Tuesday morning, a fire ravaged through the church’s bell tower. Firefighters had to attack it aerially, which sent a lot of water into the church. There’s no cause of the fire yet and the exact amount of damage hasn’t been determined.
“First arriving units on the scene which is only about two blocks away, engine house 28, they reported heavy fire in a churchyard, church steeple, asked for a second alarm immediately because of the size of this fire,” St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said.
“This is a church complex about a block by block by block so it is a big complex it is vacant, but the entire steeple was involved in a fire, and I mean from the ground all the way up to about 150 feet.”
Wanda Combs, a board member said she never turns the news on early in the mornings, but Tuesday she did, and the fire was the first thing she saw.
“It was just unreal,” she said.
However, walking past in the daylight, the damage from the outside looks minimal.
“Look the brick is still there,” Lin Woods, president of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame of Missouri, said. “One-hundred-year-old building, they don’t build them like that anymore.”
Woods said the community has been incredibly supportive of the project.
The fire isn’t stopping the plans to bring the building back to life.
“The building is still standing and that gave me hope, we are going to move forward with the project,” Yancie said. “There’s no life here, it died but that doesn’t mean it won’t live again.”
Steve Smith, CEO of Lawrence Group is also on board with the project and will provide design and construction for the project, which is no small feat.
The estimated cost is $22 million for historic restoration, but that estimate was before the fire.
“We’re not deterred, we will stay on this mission to bring this project to fruition and this legacy to the city of St. Louis,” Woods said.
To donate or stay up to date with the project and fundraising events, Gospel Music Hall of Fame of Missouri website.