In the 1880s, the founding members of Angier Avenue Baptist held Sunday school classes out of a “small wooden structure known as the Oak Grove School. At this time, East Durham had not yet been incorporated into the city of Durham. It was a separate town with its own officials and did not yet have electricity, running water, or paved streets. In search of a permanent location for the church, the founders decided that the intersection of Angier Avenue and Driver Street would be the location for their new church. It was completed in 1889 and lit with kerosene lamps and heated with coal-burning stoves. The sanctuary was further expanded in 1924 and remained a community fixture for nearly a century.
The project also includes the revitalization of three additional storefront buildings lining the central thoroughfare. They’ve hosted many local businesses since they were originally constructed in 1920s, but have been vacant or underutilized for years. The parish experienced declining memberships in recent years, and the building was purchased along with the neighboring buildings by Self-Help Credit Union, a locally headquartered member-owned mission-driven credit union, nonprofit loan fund, and policy advocacy organization.
The former church and collection of buildings are now the Angier Business & Children’s Center Center (ABC), a hub of support for the children and families of East Durham, as well as a space for local businesses and nonprofits to grow. The five historic buildings representing 45,000 square feet of office and retail space are now leased to businesses owned or nonprofits run by people of color.
In addition to serving as the home of the No Greater Love Christian Church congregation, the newly revitalized sanctuary building will also become the long-term home for the Durham Children’s Initiative (DCI) to further serve their community. This highly impactful nonprofit organization currently serves over 1,000 children who live within a 120-block area around the community. They provide a continuum of care for the children of East Durham as well as their families from pre-school through high school.
Additional space adjacent to the sanctuary will be home to All my Children Childcare, an African American women-owned family business that currently supports 80 children in the community. Spaces in the other buildings are home to various local businesses and startups including a pharmacy, a food retailer, a fitness studio, and a clothing shop.
Economic and Community Impact
The creation of the ABC Center will provide new space for EDCI and All my Children to grow and better serve their predominantly low-income community. EDCI anticipates they’ll be able to double the number of children and families they’ll be able to support on an annual basis to 2,000.
The revitalized commercial spaces will likely be home to a variety of businesses that are desperately needed in the community including independent pharmacies and affordable office and retail space for local entrepreneurs. In total, the project created 40 construction jobs and is expected to create 120 permanent jobs in the community and help to revitalize the historic East Durham business district.