ORLANDO, Fla. — Will a nearly-century-old Parramore church with a caved-in roof be saved or demolished? It’s a question that may not be answered until January.
The roof of Black Bottom Church of Prayer caved in around 10:44 a.m. Thursday. Since then, the pastor of the church has been fighting for the city to allow it to stay standing.
Demolition of the church began briefly Thursday afternoon after a fire inspector deemed the building hazardous but was halted after pastor Dana Jackson ran into the church with her two young grandchildren.
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“It’s a personal pain because I used the money from the death of my son to purchase the church, so it was my grieving project,” Jackson said.
Officials said failure of the roof trusses is what caused the collapse.
The collapse happened the morning after Orlando’s Historic Preservation Board approved applying landmark status to the building. But before it can go into effect, that status, which would add additional protections to the site, needs final approval from the Orlando City Council.
City officials said the council isn’t scheduled to vote on the issue until January.
Although crews declared the church unstable and hazardous, a structural engineer came out to assess the damage Friday and believes that the church can be saved.
On Monday, officials said structural engineers will meet with city planners and code enforcement to discuss an action plan.
Firefighters are worried about an additional collapse that could damage power lines, which would affect 20 to 30 homes in the area.
A man was said to be inside the church at the time of the collapse, but he was able to escape without injury.
Watch raw aerial footage of the damage below:
Jackson told McCray she’d received estimates that work to restore the church prior to the collapse could cost upward of $250,000.
The church was built in 1925 and was purchased by Jackson in 2015 with aspirations of restoring it back to its glory days.
The church's website says the name “Black Bottom” came from the land the church sits on. When it rained, the water would create ponds that never drained, requiring residents to build canoes to get around.
Jackson said prior to the collapse, she was working with the Orange Preservation Trust, which advocates for and helps protect historic sites in Orange County, to get her church a historic landmark designation.
"It opens the door to more grants,” Jackson had said, adding that she was hoping to get Orlando's Historic Preservation Board to approve the designation.
“It's going to happen. God is going to do it,” Jackson said earlier this week.
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