Demolition is underway of the historic Tremont Temple Baptist Church in Macon. Crews started tearing down the facade Monday. This follows months of back and forth between church members, who wanted to sell the property to a developer, and historic preservationists who sought to save what they considered a Civil Rights-era landmark.
Charles Richardson, the Telegraph’s editorial page editor, says this fight to save the church grew into a very big one with at least four entities embroiled in the battle. “You had the historic preservation people, Tremont’s congregation, the buyer and Macon’s Planning and Zoning. My contention has always been that it is not Planning and Zoning’s job to decide who should sell what to whom.”
The Historic Macon Foundation offered to pay the congregation the same price offered by local Dunkin Donuts developer Lou Patel, but the congregation was not receptive. Richardson says that’s because the church was under a contract to the developer to sell it. “If they reneged who would be liable? The church.”
Throughout the dispute between Tremont’s congregation and Historic Macon many felt there was an undercurrent of racial divisiveness. "I've learned a lot from this experience and Historic Macon's got to do a lot more to engage people of color. That's not been our strong suit over the past many years," said Historic Macon Executive Director Josh Rogers. Rogers is white, while church leaders are black.
Meanwhile, Samuel Jones who is coordinating the demolition at the site says it'll take a week just to get the building down.