ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando firefighters saved a person after most of the roof collapsed at the Black Bottom House of Prayer in Parramore, the focus of a just-launched historic-preservation project.
- Majority of roof collapsed at 1920s-era Parramore church
- Firefighters: Person was in adjacent apartment but wasn't hurt
- RELATED STORY: Parramore Community Trying to Restore Historic Church to Full Glory
Eighty percent of the roof collapsed at the dilapidated building at 921 Bentley St., said Ashley Papagni, a spokeswoman for the Orlando Fire Department.
A person who was located in a nearby apartment was rescued and wasn't hurt, Papagni told Spectrum News 13 in an email. The building has been cleared.
"Code enforcement has been notified," Papagni added.
When the Black Bottom House of Prayer’s roof gave way, Pastor Dana Jackson’s heart sunk.
"It’s a personal pain, because I used the money from the death of my son to purchase the church, so it was my grieving project. So the tears you see today is my work is folded. But all is not lost,” said Jackson, who is leading efforts to restore this historic church.
The collapse comes as activists are rallying support to designate the church as a historical landmark. It was built in 1925.
At one time, the church was named The Pleasant Hill Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. It was later named Carter Tabernacle Christian Methodist Episcopal before becoming The Black Bottom House of Prayer most recently.
Even before Thursday's roof collapse, the building had many problems, including cracks in the building and exposed wires.
Jackson’s congregation has had to hold their Sunday services in a back hall of the church because the church was in such bad shape.
CHURCH ROOF COLLAPSE— Jeff Allen (@News13JeffAllen) December 5, 2019
No one hurt, but this puts efforts to restore the church in limbo. Here are some views, including one shot from above by our drone.
More info, including our previous story on the church: https://t.co/R9RF850HfP@MyNews13 #News13Orange pic.twitter.com/4lO4HOKEj8
Just Wednesday afternoon, the Historic Preservation Board in Orlando granted the church a historical designation. It passed unanimously. This was just the first step though, as Orlando's City Council would have to make the final decision about the designation.
It's currently unclear how the partial roof collapse will affect the designation process, but at least one of the Orlando city commissioners still seems confident it will happen.
“In this unfortunate incident. We are very sensitive that this is a historic landmark here in historic Parramore, and to preserve what we can to hopefully continue the process of rebuilding again," said Commissioner Regina Hill.
Pastor Jackson isn’t anywhere close to giving up. She said she believes this is just all part of her plan to restore the church.
“God is bringing attention to himself. It’s an opportunity for the community to get involved and be a part of history to rebuild," she said.
The estimate for a new roof over the sanctuary was $250,000 before Thursday's collapse.
Spectrum News 13 reached out to the City of Orlando about the pending plans for the building. Public Information Officer Karyn Barber released this statement to us:
At this time safety is our top priority. As I am sure you already know, out of an abundance of caution, Westmoreland and Bentley have been closed until the building can be secured. Staff from our Code Enforcement Office, including a Structural Engineer, are on site evaluating the damage and continue to work to secure the building to reopen the roadways as soon as it's deemed safe.
The Historic Preservation Board voted last night to accept the nomination for landmark status. The next steps are for an ordinance to be drafted that will go before City Council. It is too soon to make any assumptions that anything will change.
If you'd like to make donations to The Black Bottom House of Prayer, you can mail checks to Black Bottom House of Prayer at P.O. Box 547882, Orlando, Florida 32854 made payable to Black Bottom House of Prayer.
You can also make donations by using the cash app $Blackbottomprayer. Jackson says anyone wanting to help the church can call or text her directly at 407-285-0415.