47ºF

Crews work to preserve historic Orlando church after roof collapse

Black Bottom House of Prayer built in 1925

ORLANDO, Fla. – No one was injured when a roof collapsed at a historic Parramore church Thursday morning, according to the Orlando Fire Department.

Crews are expected to return to the site Friday to begin the preservation process while removing pieces of the roof.

City of Orlando officials were seen on the property early Friday morning.

City Commissioner Regina Hill said clean up work is being halted for now until experts can inspect the building.

“There is going to be some collateral damages because of the collapse but we want to preserve some of these walls and whatever we can preserve we want to make sure it’s done so that we can restore and rebuild also,” Hill said.

Crews put a fence around the property to make sure no one trespasses for safety reasons.

“We are not going to touch the Historic Black Bottom house of prayer until we bring an expert that understands structure and preservation,” Hill said.

The roof of the Black Bottom House of Prayer collapsed around 11 a.m. Thursday.

Officials with the fire department said one person was in a conjoining apartment when 80% of the roof collapsed but they were not injured.

“If you look at the structure right now, it’s not very stable,” Orlando Fire District Chief Bryan Davis said. “Most of the wood has succumbed from the age of what it was used to build with and it makes it more difficult for us to make entry. The slightest little change in shift of weight or wind and the rest of the building will collapse.”

The building was cleared and code enforcement officials have been notified.

The church on Bentley Street was originally built in 1925. Pastor Dana Jackson bought the building in 2015.

“It has been a tragedy today but all is not lost,” Jackson said. “God is bringing attention to himself. It’s an opportunity for the community to get involved and be a part of history to rebuild. It’s a personal pain because I used the money from the death of my son to purchase the church. It was my grieving project. The tears you see today is my work, it’s folded.”

The night before the collapse, the Orlando Historic Preservation Board voted to accept the nomination for landmark status. Next, an ordinance would be drafted to go before City Council to approve the status.

Community members have been raising money to repair the church, including replacing the roof, which had fallen into disrepair over the years.

Westmoreland Drive and Bentley Street reopened a little before 6 p.m. Thursday after a fence was put around the building.

A man who witnesses the roof collapse called 911 to report the hazard.

“Half of the roof is caved in, part of the face of the building is offset and it’s coming off the side,” the caller said. “I’m not a technician but it needs to be right. Ya’ll need to take care of it.”

The man told dispatchers he was concerned about children coming home from school later in the day.

“Part of the roof, it might shift and knock the wall down I don’t know,” he said. “But somebody needs to get out here and corner this off before these kids come through here later on today and make sure they safe.”

A fundraiser has been set up for the church on the app “CashApp,” just look for the username $BlackBottomPrayer to donate.


About the Authors: