A former Morris Brown College dormitory, a central part of the school’s history, has been torn down.
The demolition by the building’s owner, Friendship Baptist Church, began last week. It was a first step towards redeveloping the area into a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood, said Friendship’s CEO Lloyd Hawk.
The former dorm, known as the John A. Middleton Towers, had to come down because of the age and condition, Hawk said. It caught fire twice in 2016.
“Given what we as a church have gone through, we are more sensitive to that type of loss and change,” Hawk said. “We appreciate the history, not just for Morris Brown alumni, but that most Atlantans have for those buildings and this entire area.”
In September 2013, Friendship agreed to sell its historic church, where the late Mayor Maynard Jackson’s father once preached, to make room for the Atlanta Falcons Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The church bought the former dorm in 2015 as part of a land deal with Invest Atlanta, which saw the struggling historically black college sell off most of its property as part of a plan to exit bankruptcy.
Morris Brown’s president, Dr. Stanley J. Pritchett, Sr, said it sold the property two years ago as part of its reorganization. The school is looking towards the future, but understands the demolition is hard for former students.
“We are focused on accreditation at this time,” Pritchett said in an email. “However, many of our alumni had memorable experiences when they were on campus and have sentimental reactions to demolition of the Towers.”
Pritchett went on to say that the campus community wished the best for Friendship, “as they move forward with their development plans."
A timeline for the church’s redevelopment project hasn’t been finalized and the church isn’t ready to announce details, Hawk said.
Friendship’s new church is halfway through the construction process, according to its website. And per a recently-posted video, congregants expect the new church to be ready by the end of July.
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