The foundation of one of the first Black churches in San Antonio was discovered in February during construction of the San Pedro Creek Culture Park project.
The St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in the 19th century by formerly enslaved Black people after the Civil War. Congregants later moved the church to the city’s West Side, where it remains active today.
These archaeological discoveries, made along the creek's east bank across from the Alameda Theater, do present unique challenges for the multimillion dollar project. Honoring the AME Church’s significance could prove to be expensive and delay the project’s timeline.
How long would a redesign delay completion of the San Pedro Creek project? Will the completed park honor the original St. James AME site and if so, what will that look like? What local and federal historic preservation guidelines are in play?
Have other artifacts of historical and cultural relevance have been revealed during project construction? Were experts expecting the project to unearth these treasures? Do they anticipate any other discoveries?
Separately, how has the pandemic affected the team's ability to work on the project? Will the San Pedro Creek Culture Park have to adapt to fit the new normal of life amid COVID-19?
- Carey Latimore, Ph.D., professor of African American history at Trinity University and member of the project’s interpretive plan committee
- Kerry Averyt, senior project engineer for the San Antonio River Authority
- Steve Tomka, Ph.D., cultural resources program director with Raba Kistner, Inc.
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*This interview was recorded on Thursday, June 24.
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