New downtown park dedicated to historic African American church
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The City of Charleston dedicated its new park to Shiloh African Methodist Episcopal Church on Thursday with the grounds being the former home of the church.
Located at 172 Smith St., the half-acre park was designed by city staff and hopes to provide a safe place for community members to escape to.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, Reverend Eugene Collins Sr., Shiloh AME Church Pastor, and Reverend Dr. Norvel Goff Sr., Shiloh AME Church Elder, gathered to remember the church’s history and officially open the park.
Sharing the importance of the church, Goff says Shiloh Park displays a sense that we are stronger working together.
“We stand on the hollow grounds of Shiloh AME Church and coming to celebrate what has been done not just by a few, but by all of us,” Goff said. “All are welcome. The welcome mat is out, not just for some of us, but for all of us whether we are residents or traveling to look at this beautiful city and embrace it.”
First opened in 1886, Shiloh Church was the home of three different denominations: Baptists, United Methodist and AME. Mayor Tecklenburg says the park is for everyone in Charleston to reflect on the city’s history.
“It’s on the site of a former church, and so I feel that just adds almost a spiritual nature to it. It’s a place of rest, inspiration and repose for our citizens and visitors who might come here,” Tecklenburg said. “It’s a beautiful addition to our city.”
Shiloh Park construction cost was $333,599 and the art was $10,000 funded by a Coastal Community Foundation Sustaining Black Communities grant.
Artist Cedric Umoja painted a mural named “In remembrance & love” at the park to remember the history of Shiloh AME Church and its impact on the community. The space also features more areas for additional art instillations in the future.
“The work itself touches on remembering what was here and trying to hold that energy in by making sure that this is here and open for everybody to be able to experience and be able to enjoy,” Umoja said.
Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.