The New York Landmarks Conservancy has announced eight Sacred Sites Grants totaling $140,000 awarded to historic religious properties throughout New York State, including $30,000 to Mother A.M.E. Zion Church in Harlem to help fund slate roof repairs.

Established in 1796, the Mother A.M.E. Zion Church is New York City’s first Black congregation and the denominational center for the A.M.E. Zion Church. In the 1800s it was known as the “Freedom Church” for its role in the abolition movement. The current sanctuary dates from 1925 and was designed by one of America’s first registered Black architects, George Washington Foster Jr.

The congregation has a rich history of religious and social activism, reaching about 7,000 people a year through activities such as the Frederick Douglass Continuum, an annual series of performances, talks and readings interpreting African American history; meetings and programs of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the nation’s oldest African American sorority; and meetings and programs of the National Action Network, the civil rights organization founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton. There are dance programs, concerts, educational enrichment and homeless services offered throughout the year.

“We’re delighted our grants can help maintain these important institutions during this difficult time,” said Peg Breen, president of The New York Landmarks Conservancy. “Throughout the pandemic, they have continued feeding and recovery programs, as well as health and cultural offerings to their communities.”

The Sacred Sites Program provides congregations with matching grants for planning and implementing exterior restoration projects, technical assistance and workshops. Since 1986, the program has pledged 1,559 grants totaling more than $12 million to 828 religious institutions statewide.

The New York Landmarks Conservancy, a private non-profit organization, has led the effort to preserve and protect New York City’s architectural legacy for nearly 50 years. Since its founding, the Conservancy has loaned and granted more than $52 million, which has leveraged more than $1 billion in 1,850 restoration projects throughout New York, revitalizing communities, providing economic stimulus and supporting local jobs. The Conservancy has also offered countless hours of pro bono technical advice to building owners, both nonprofit organizations and individuals. The Conservancy’s work has saved more than a thousand buildings across the city and state, protecting New York’s distinctive architectural heritage for residents and visitors alike today, and for future generations. For more information, please visit