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Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church - National Fund For Sacred Places
2016 Cohort

Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Chicago, Illinois

Quinn Chapel AME Church is the oldest African American congregation in Chicago.

Quinn Chapel AME Church by John M. Gay, NCARB, AIA
Quinn Chapel AME Church by John M. Gay, NCARB, AIA
2016 Cohort

Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Chicago, Illinois

Quinn Chapel AME Church is the oldest African American congregation in Chicago.

The church was founded in 1844 and named after Bishop William Paul Quinn, an AME missionary who organized numerous churches in Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. Since 1891, Quinn Chapel has occupied a Gothic Revival-style building designed for the congregation by John H. McAfee and Henry F. Starbuck. Quinn Chapel has been a leading force in social movements over the past 180 years. The original church served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony spoke at Quinn Chapel in 1893 per the recommendation of Frederick Douglass after she was denied the opportunity to speak at the World’s Columbian Exposition. In the 20th century, Quinn Chapel saw Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver champion educational and economic equality, Ida B. Wells speak out against lynching, Adam Clayton Powell and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. further the Civil Rights movement, and Archibald Carey Jr. advance the emerging African American political movement.

Quinn Chapel continues to attract national figures while supporting the local community. One of the congregation’s main priorities is promoting “recovery and reentry” for formerly incarcerated individuals and people battling addition through offering mentorship and temporary employment opportunities. Quinn Chapel also hosts a health ministry that provides screening and referrals. The congregation collaborates with a school for children with developmental disabilities, groups campaigning against violence, and housing programs for senior citizens and people facing housing insecurity.

A $227,000 National Fund grant with over $450,000 in matching funds raised by the congregation contributed to the overall restoration of Quinn Chapel. Grant-supported work included installing an elevator to increase accessibility to all levels of the church, upgrading electrical systems, reconfiguring space into conference rooms available to the community, and completing window repairs and replacements. An air-conditioning system was also installed on the lower level, allowing Quinn Chapel to host meetings during the summer for the first time. Representatives from Quinn Chapel commented that this work has fostered “pride in the African American community knowing this landmark will be here for the future.”

Quinn Chapel AME: Restoring Faith

A 2010 video by Ben Leitschuh on the history, mission, and restoration efforts of Quinn Chapel.

Stories and Media Coverage

Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.

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