Historic downtown church could be replaced by a Dunkin' Donuts

Rachel Paul

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Downtown Macon’s historic Tremont Temple Missionary Baptist Church could potentially be demolished in preparation for the construction of a new Dunkin’ Donuts.

The Macon-Bibb Planning and Zoning Committee is set to discuss the proposal for these plans on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Congregants have worshipped there for over 110 years, but the old building at 860 Forsyth St. has been unused since early 2007 when the congregation moved its operations to a building located at 5263 Bloomfield Rd., according to Tremont Temple Missionary Baptist Church’s website.

The church is located directly across the street from the Medical Center of Central Georgia, and the building has been on the market since its abandonment. In a letter to planning authorities dated Sept. 18, Pastor Camile Holmes and trustee chairman Adrian Fort wrote, “We are very much praying for the sale of the building so that we can utilize the proceeds from the sale to continue our ministry at 5263 Bloomfield Rd.”

According to the church’s website, the vacant church “has hosted some of the pulpit giants of this age. Some of them include Dr. Vernon Johns, Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Reverend Jesse Jackson.”

According to GPB, “The Historic Macon Foundation issued a ‘preservation alert’ Thursday evening, not long after news of the planned demolition made the rounds on social media.”

Historic Macon Executive Director Josh Rogers said in a written statement, according to GPB, “Historic Macon is opposed to the demolition of the church, and intends to work together with the congregation to find a solution that will help the congregation sell the church and preserve the current building.”

In an interview, Rogers said, “Across the country, historic churches are facing major challenges, from the National-Park-Service level down. Those of us who are involved in preservation really believe strongly in being creative with historic churches—it’s most important to keep the building.”

On whether or not the integration of historicity and modern development was taking place, Rogers said, “The reuse that is proposed is a Dunkin’ Donuts, and I don’t think those uses are mutually exclusive at all.” He went on to say, “I don’t see why that use couldn’t take place in the current building and still be viable.”

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