Dublin First African Baptist Church Pursues National Register Listing
Cheers were raised during a recent meeting of the committee working towards recognition of Dublin’s First African Baptist Church and its national historic prominence.
On July 27, 2015 , the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Historic Preservation Division stated in a letter that the Dublin church “appeared to meet the criteria for listing in the National Register” in the area of architecture as well as in the area of ethnic heritage.
This was good news for the committee. Comprised of representatives from the City of Dublin, First African Baptist Church, Laurens County Historical Society, Dublin Downtown Development Authority, and Visit Dublin GA, the committee has partnered for eighteen months to garner support for and recognition of First African Baptist Church as the site where 15 year old Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his first public speech in 1944.
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s list of buildings, sites, and districts that are considered worthy of recognition and preservation because of their architectural merit or importance in local, regional, or national history. Historic properties listed in the National Register must be at least 50 years old and meet at least one of four National Register Criteria: architecture, important events, people, or history.
“Being listed on the National Register is truly an honor, not just for the congregation, but for the community as a whole. Approval of the nomination will preserve, protect and give prominence to the oldest African American church in the city of Dublin, and increases awareness of the significant historical event that occurred at the church and in Dublin on April 17,histor 1944. This single historical event distinguishes our community from any other place and provides another great reason to be proud of where we live. The NR listing will call attention to the church and alert residents and visitors to the historical value of our community, which could in turn boost tourism and economic vitality for the community,” explained Deborah J. Stanley, Community Development Coordinator for the City of Dublin. “The City of Dublin is proud of its rich heritage and currently has three listings on the National Register of Historic Places: the Carnegie Library, the Dublin Commercial Historic District, and the Stubbs Park-Stonewall Street District.”
Stanley worked closely with members of First African Baptist Church as well as Robin Nail, Senior Planner/Historic Preservationist and Rafael Nail, Assistant Executive Director and Planning Director both with Heart of Georgia Altamaha Regional Commission to compile the preliminary information application. Next, they will work to submit an in depth application, documenting First African Baptist Chruch’s description, history, significance, photographs, maps, and floor plans. If approved by HPD, the nomination will go to the Georgia National Register Review Board for approval. If First African Baptist Church is listed on the Georgia Register of Historic Places, HPD will then submit to the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, DC.
History in the Making
Recently awarded tourism product development funds to construct an interactive monument commemorating Dr. King’s speech at First African Baptist Church, the City of Dublin expects construction to begin shortly. For more information on the project, contact Visit Dublin GA at 478-272-4002 or visit http://www.firstafricanbaptistdublinga.com/.