SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — If you go by 711 East Fayette Street in Syracuse, you’ll see it needs of a lot of work. However, its foundation as the former home of the People’s AME Zion Church is strong.
“The People’s AME Zion Church is the oldest African American church in the city, in the county, and we’ve had a long standing history of really being at the forefront of civil rights and then also community activism,” said Reverend Daren Jaime, the church’s pastor. “So, back in the day in the 15th Ward, people really referred to People’s and the 711 building as a place of meetings for activism.”
Efforts have been underway for years to preserve the building and its legacy. The People’s Community Development Corporation, a satellite organization of the church, previously secured $500,000 in funding. It was recently given $75,000 from the National Trust for Historic places.
It will soon be transformed into the Benediction Cafe.
“There would be culinary jobs training, but also a cafe for people to be able to learn their culinary skills and then go right upstairs and also be able to practice that through the cafe. So we were able to get this grant, and this grant puts us on phase one, which allows us to do the exterior renovation,” Pastor Jaime explained.
Phase one is expected to be completed by October. Phase two renovations on the inside are expected to begin in 2022. The goal is the have the cafe open in 2023.
Pastor Jaime asked the community for its continued patience as what is considered to have been a long time eyesore is being transformed.
“It has just been a labor of love,” he said describing the project.
Pastor Jaime said fundraising efforts will be announced for the next phase of construction.
If you’d like to make a donation or want more information you can call the People’s Community Development Corporation at (315) 498-1238.