Abandoned African-American Baltimore Church to Be Turned Into Museum

The restored Cherry Hill African United Methodist Protestant Church in Baltimore County will be used as a meeting space and museum. (Tom Brenner / Baltimore Sun)
The restored Cherry Hill African United Methodist Protestant Church in Baltimore County will be used as a meeting space and museum. (Tom Brenner / Baltimore Sun)

Summer sun streaming through large windows into the small chapel illuminates panel walls lined with black-and-white, poster-sized photographs of African-American life over the years.

The small, airy room is empty of pews for now, but there’s a podium from which to preach God’s word.

It’s hard to imagine this building — once the Cherry Hill African Union Methodist Protestant Church in the western Baltimore County community of Granite — had been so derelict it was in danger of collapsing.

Over the past year, the tiny church has been painstakingly rescued from ruin and transformed into the Diggs-Johnson Museum — a new life for the 19th-century building that had been abandoned for decades.

Gone are the windows boarded up with wood salvaged from the pews, the spray paint on the walls and the gaping holes in the floor.

“It was scary when I first came in here,” said Betty Stewart, a Windsor Mill resident who worked on the restoration.

“It was in terrible condition, actually ready to fall down,” said Louis Diggs, a local historian and author from Owings Mills. He is president of the Friends of Historical Cherry Hill AUMP, a group that was founded to renovate the church building.

“It took me a long time to come inside. I wasn’t about to come inside.”

The church-turned-museum is named for Diggs and Lenwood Johnson, a historian and former Baltimore County government planner who also has been involved in restoring the church.

Johnson said that while working for the county years ago, he was trying to identify buildings shown in aerial photos. Along Offutt Road in Granite, he spotted the little church.

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Source: Baltimore Sun | 

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