3801 Market Street
This building was first conceived by Bishop Frank C. Cummings of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1980. He had just been on to eight banquets in the same week and noticed that he only saw one black dude working at them. He also noticed that most of the hotels and conference halls he went to were white-owned and run. Cummings thought that there should be a black-owned, black-managed office/conference/banquet/convention space that could help the community. After 9 years of planning and fundraising, his dream came true and the boring-ass building began construction in 1989.
It was named First District Plaza, being that Philadelphia is the home of the A.M.E.'s First District. The African Methodist Episcopal Church was born in Philadelphia through the Free African Society, formed when Richard Allen and Absalom Jones walked out of St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church (on 4th street next to the BFB) to protest the church's racial discrimination. Despite that history, the A.M.E.'s headquarters is now in Nashville, Tennessee. Funny, Supermegatect William Strickland went to Nashville too.
The building ended up costing $13 million. It was funded by bank loans, a federal block grant, and Self Help, Inc, an A.M.E. corporation. When it opened in April, 1990, people went fucking nuts over it. It was reported that a woman broke down in tears upon walking inside. Bishop Cummings called it the "Miracle of Market Street". Besides offices for the A.M.E. First District, it also boasted a shitload of banquet space, a cafe, and office spaces for various companies, both white- and black-managed.
|How it looked when it was new in 1990.|
Now that the building has been up for 22 years, maybe its time for a change. What happened to cornices? Put a big-ass cornice on that thing, add like 5 floors, and clad it with some new facade. Then take out that stupid glass-block piece sticking out the front and replace it with a 80-foot statue of Richard Allen giving the finger towards Market Street so that everyone driving by gets the bird flipped at them. The First District of the A.M.E. represents a shitload of people. If each on contributed $5, all those alterations would be possible. Get to it!!