Historic Preservation: Grants Requested to Complete Restoration of Belton Black Church | Region
BELTON — Mount Zion United Methodist Church, one of the last black churches in Bell County, may soon be getting a makeover.
In a bid to see Belton Church’s original sanctuary – a facility built in 1893 and last refurbished in late August 2018 – restored to its former glory, Belton City Council has authorized staff to submit an application for the Texas Rural African American Heritage Grant through Preservation Texas and an application for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.
Nominations, both due in early January, will be made in partnership with Mount Zion Church, 218 N. Alexander St.
“The opportunity to apply for the African-American Heritage Grant through Preservation Texas will provide the church with much-needed funding to further preserve the original building,” said Jo-Ell Guzman, Grants and Fellowships Coordinator. special projects for the town of Belton. “The grant (proposes) to restore the building envelope and sanctuary to bring historic preservation and education to the community and provide a venue for community-related events.”
The African American Heritage Grant would help fund windows, doors, floors, ceilings, electrical outlets, heating and air conditioning, plumbing, fire suppression, and paint improvements, as well as the bench refinishing and utility closet updates, according to the City of Belton.
“This phase of improvements is estimated at $100,000 with a 25% match,” Guzman said. “Mount Zion United Methodist Church will provide this game. The city will provide local infrastructure upgrades: water service to the sanctuary and fire protection upgrades such as a fire hydrant and dedicated fire protection service line. The municipal contribution is estimated at $10,000.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, meanwhile, would help the church complete a series of exterior repairs to its exterior trim, masonry cladding, paint, its brick window sills and door trim.
“This phase of improvements is estimated at $125,000 with a 20% match,” Guzman said. “Mount Zion United Methodist Church will provide the game.”
Belton Councilor Dan Kirkley is among many applicants for a pair of successful grant applications.
“I’ve attended services at Mount Zion many times. It’s just a wonderful experience and I love my brothers and sisters who go there,” Kirkley said during a Dec. 14 meeting. only for the neighborhood and for the members…and for me personally, Mount Zion has been a huge blessing.”
Belton Mayor Wayne Carpenter — who alluded to unsuccessful applications in 2018 and 2020 for the National Park Service’s African-American Civil Rights Preservation Grant — agreed.
“We hope for a successful conclusion this time around,” he said. “There’s a lot of community support for this congregation…so we’re pulling a lot for you all.”