One of the downtown churches that must make way for the new Atlanta Falcons stadium says a lot of their history could be lost in the transition.
Friendship Baptist Church was started by slaves more than 150 years ago. Frank Quarles was the first pastor.
"Friendship Baptist church is the oldest black Baptist church in the city Atlanta. It was founded in 1862 by slaves who actually came out of the first Baptist church in Atlanta," said Lloyd Hawk, the Board of Trustee chair.
Hawk said that the bell tower of the church is a signature feature. He said that Spelman College was founded in the church's basement. Morehouse College also once held classes at the church.
"You can't talk about the history of Atlanta without talking about Morehouse or Spelman and you really might not even have Morehouse or Spelman in Atlanta if it was not for Friendship," Hawk said.
In Friendship's 150-year history, the church has only had six pastors. One of the pastors is the father of Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson; another is the father of well-known actress Jasmine Guy. Her father is still a member.
The problem now is that the historic church sits on prime downtown real estate where the Atlanta Falcon's want to build a multi-million dollar retractable dome.
Chairman Hawk says, if the Falcons and the city select the proposed southern site, Martin Luther King Jr. Drive would be relocated right through the historic sanctuary.
"What we are doing right now is we're waiting for the city to see what they have to offer, but we have been in this community for a 150 years and one thing we have always said is that we will continue to be in this community," Hawk said. .
Hawk says he would like for the bell tower and the facade of the building to remain at the site.
The Falcons tell the church they are looking to put green space there and negotiations are underway.
1551 Briarcliff Rd., NE Atlanta, GA 30306
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