Kadesh A.M.E. Zion Church

Historic Kadesh Church Restoration

For over 100 years Kadesh Church was a powerful force for good in the Edenton, North Carolina community. In 2003 Hurricane Isabel ravaged the building. The sturdy structure withstood the storm, but damage rendered it unusable. Ever-strong, the Kadesh congregation is rallying the Edenton community to come together and restore this beloved building, both for the benefit of the church body and for the community at large.

Like the numerous historical buildings in Edenton, Kadesh, as a building, is an architectural treasure. It represents the very best design and construction of its day. However, it is critical to look beyond the familiar – outstanding architecture – with Kadesh. The space represents, and holds within, stories, memories, and lineages that have played a crucial role in shaping Edenton and Eastern North Carolina’s African American community. Kadesh stands as a beacon of faith, entrepreneurship, resilience, and community and as a result, is one of the most essential- and endangered- African American cultural assets in Eastern North Carolina. Edenton takes pride in its remarkable historic buildings and believes Kadesh is one of its gems; restoring Kadesh is a must.

Kadesh A.M.E. Zion’s location in what was once a thriving African American corridor in Edenton is critical, as well. It exists strategically at the center of an economic empowerment zone designated by the City of Edenton. With investment being made throughout the neighborhood, Kadesh is an opportunity to add to this investment.

A restored Kadesh is not just a treasure from the past. It will be a place of worship for the congregation and a gathering place for the congregation and myriad community groups. Kadesh will bring people together. As is fitting for a house of worship, it will be restored by the efforts of citizens of all races and backgrounds. It will again be a place of spiritual, intellectual and social ministry in a time that cries out for such.

The mission of this $1.3 million-dollar campaign is to restore the historic church as an active religious facility for this historically and predominantly African American congregation. The restoration also will allow the historic building to serve as a community, cultural, and educational center for Edenton, Chowan County, and Northeastern North Carolina. The ultimate objective is to make the church structurally sound and usable while preserving its essential historic fabric.

Kadesh Legacy

When Kadesh A.M.E. Zion Church opened the doors of its newly constructed sanctuary in 1897, the congregation had already been a flourishing leader within Edenton, North Carolina’s African American community for three decades. The stunning church building was constructed by Hannibal Badham, Sr., a formerly enslaved African American. In this awe inspiring space, the congregation served as a beacon for faith and education.

A Resource for Economic As Well As Spiritual Development

The Town of Edenton recognizes the value of Kadesh as an essential ‘anchor’ in its plans for the economic development of the neighborhood. Town Manager, Anne-Marie Knighton, states:

“The East Gale Neighborhood contains a collection of incredibly significant African American architecture and has been a cornerstone of the African American community since the Town’s colonial beginnings. This wealth of architecture and cultural history is most reflected in Kadesh A.M.E. Zion Church. The Town of Edenton is hopeful that by being part of its North Oakum Neighborhood Redevelopment Zone, East Gale Street will once again be a vibrant neighborhood with its historic church and homes rehabilitated and occupied by families and community leaders.”

The Plan for Restoration

A thorough structural assessment and renovation plan was completed by McPherson Design Group (Norfolk, VA) in June, 2019. They determined that the total cost of the restoration would be $2 million. To get to this point, the Campaign, led by the Kadesh congregation and other members of the Edenton community, will seek to raise $1.3 million to complete Phase 1 of the project. Financial management for the campaign is provided by the Edenton Historical Commission.

The goal of Phase 1 is to make the building safe and functional for the congregation and public to use for a full schedule of events and activities. To do this, Phase 1 will fund a complete structural renovation of the building including masonry work, timber framing, scaffolding, shoring entrances, stoops and ramps. The bell tower, which needs extensive repair, will be completely restored. All electrical, HVAC, and plumbing systems will be completed.

Phase 2 will focus on interior furnishings and finishes.

A National Effort

Support for the Campaign to Restore Kadesh Church will be sought from individuals, companies, foundations, and other organizations. Support is expected from local, regional, state, and national sources. Kadesh’s national significance was dramatically demonstrated when Partners for Sacred Places ( Philadelphia, PA) and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (Washington, DC) chose Kadesh as a recipient of their highly competitive National Fund grants. A total of $250,000 was pledged to the project if it can be matched by other donors. Applied towards the Phase 1 goal, this leaves $1.05 million to be raised for Phase 1.

How You Can Assist

We want to get the word out about this restoration, out across the nation and world. Please share this information. Contact the Edenton Historical Commission (www.ehcnc.org) with questions or with ideas for potential donors. The Edenton Historical Commission and the Town of Edenton are assisting the Church congregation in planning and coordination of the restoration. We will be updating this site with information as the project develops.