St. Bartley Primitive Baptist Renovation

Year Completed: 2019
Project Size: 16,250 Sqft

The oldest African American congregation in Alabama and one of the most historic in the United States, St. Bartley Primitive Baptist Church was organized in 1820 at the Old Georgia Graveyard. Originally known as Huntsville African Baptist Church, the first church building was burned down by Union soldiers during the Civil War and rebuilt on Williams Street in 1872 with funds allotted by President Ulysses Grant. It was rededicated as St. Bartley Primitive Baptist Church in respect of its second pastor. The congregation’s current building was constructed in 1965 after the Williams Street building was torn down due to urban renewal.

​Chapman Sisson Architects was honored to work with the congregation of St. Bartley in preparation of their bicentennial celebration. The sanctuary was upgraded with new finishes and technology including LED lighting, a larger AV booth, an expanded platform, and recessed glass instrument enclosure. A new gathering area/lobby was created by the demolition of three offices and the replacement of all frosted windows with a transparent, more efficient glazing. In the morning, the eastern sun casts horizontal beams of shadow and light which are imitated by the horizontality of new LED fixtures and the directionality of the finishes and structure. Stained wood and St. Bartley’s signature accent colors bring warmth and interest to create a clean, welcoming entrance which transitions to the renovated sanctuary and offices.