Abyssinian House gets $25K challenge grant

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PORTLAND — An effort to restore the third oldest African-American meeting house in the country received a $25,000 boost from the 1772 Foundation.

But the restoration committee must raise $25,000 to match the grant.

The Abyssinian Meeting House, 75 Newbury St., was built in the early 180os by free African Americans at a time when slavery still existed in the U.S. The building is now on the National Historic Register and is part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

In an Aug. 22 letter to supporters, committee President Leonard Cummings Sr. said the grant will be used to fix water problems in the basement, which will be converted into an area for year-round educational programs and events.

Cummings said excavation for the drainage project will also allow more archaeological exploration of the site.

Anyone interested in contributing to the project may send a check to: The Committee to Restore the Abyssinian Meeting House, P.O. Box 11064, Portland, ME 04101. Donations may also be made online at Abyme.org.