Abyssinian Meeting House Restoration Advances with Approval of Funding Secured by Congresswoman Pingree Last Year

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The Iconic Abyssinian Meeting House, 73-75 Newberry Street, on the East End of Portland.  Please Visit Post Herein Dated March 16, 2022 for More Information on the HUD Award Secured by Congresswoman Pingree (D) for the Restoration of the Abyssinian Meeting House, Newberry Street. on Munjoy Hill.

It was just two weeks ago that The Committee to Restore the Abyssinian learned that HUD had FINALLY approved its $1.7 million in funding for the restoration of the iconic Black church built in 1828 by freed Black members of the east end community who knew they were not welcome in other churches in the area.

“Yes, we still do exist! ,” said a delighted Pam Cummings.  “We are still standig, but the best news is that we are not standing still. People are always checking in on us.  To get to this point in our redevelopment of the Abyssinian  Meeting House has taken us so many years, but we are moving ahead,” she said in a recent telephone conversation.  Four bathrooms and an elevator need to be added to the building she said  They will be added to the back of the building in new construction.

Last March, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D) announced that she had secured $1.7 million from HUD for the historic Black church on Munjoy Hill to complete its on-going restoration.  But, due to an understaffed and overwhelming amount of paperwork, the approval from HUD did not come through until earlier this month according to Pamela Cummings, whose older sister, Deb, was the founding member of the Committee that put this  national treasure on the road to restoration.

The Committee had to put together a team of people to work with HUD on the approval of the funds according to Pam.  That team included Hillary Bassett, Martha Prinello, Rob Reush, an attorney at Verrill Dana, and others to do the paperwork to be submitted to HUD for the approval process.  There were probably about ten or twelve other projects in Maine undergoing the same proess.  All of  which caused a paper jam at the HUD offices.  “HUD wasn’t fullly prepared for the paperload,” said Pam causing the slowness of the approval process until earlier this month.

Eric Dube, project manager and president of Trillium Engineering Group, Yarmouth, said today that the final permitting process with the city of Portland is almost complete.   When that process is complete, he will issue RFQs to a list of contractors that he would not disclose.  That’s an invitation to construction companies to submit their qualifications to restore the building into a community asset as required by the city of Portland.  To get to that point could take up to three months said Dube who has been project manager since 2005.

“We are grateful to Congresswoman Pingree for securing the funding to make our dream come true. As we all know too well, in some places Black history is being whitewashed.  So it’s particularly important that historic sites like this one be preserved to tell the entire story of  America,” said Pam.

Despite several requests to Senator Susan Collins (R) Washington, DC press office for a comment  on the progress of this Black history treasure, this blogger has received no response.

For more background information on this project, please visit post herein dated May 21, 2009.