Times Staff Report
(Source Miami Times):
The Southeast Overtown/Park West Redevelopment Agency came to the rescue of a historic Overtown church.
Days before a historic church property in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood was scheduled to be sold in foreclosure, a saving grace came Friday. The Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency agreed to buy the property so the loan can be paid off with the proceeds. The CRA will then give re-purchase rights to the church.
Part of the property for St. John Baptist Church, located at 1328 NW Third Ave., was in peril after its former pastor signed a risky $1.6 million balloon mortgage that went into default. The property in question, which didn’t include the church itself, was set to go to auction on Monday. However, the CRA stepped in on Friday to help save the historic church.
St. John’s has a long history in the historically-Black Overtown neigh-borhood. It was built in 1944, according to the city of Miami. “Although the Miami area is celebrated for its Art Deco architecture, St. John’s Baptist Church is one of the only Art Deco style religious buildings in Miami-Dade County and a rare example of the style in Overtown, the center of Miami’s historic African American community,” a description on the city’s historic preservation website reads. “The building is also important for its association with McKissack and McKissack, one of the first major black architectural firms in the United States.”
The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. The CRA’s intervention helped ensure this important piece of Miami’s history will be preserved.