In 1922, Porter Hall, which now houses the ballroom, was built on the northeast corner of the property. The three-story education building was added in 1923. In 1949, with the addition of air conditioning, acoustic tiles were used to cover the pressed-tin barrel-vaulted ceiling in the sanctuary. A two-story wing was added in 1954, and in 1955 Pearl Nored Fincher donated the Martha Nored Chapel (now the Rose Chapel) in memory of her mother.
The Central Methodist Church congregation left the neighborhood in 1969, due to the decline of the surrounding area and its membership. The building was originally scheduled for demolition, but was instead sold to the Panther Boy’s Club (note: this was BEFORE GIRLS were allowed to be members) for $125,000 in 1972. The club built a boxing ring in the sanctuary, Porter Hall became a small gym, and the chapel and education building were used mostly for storage. The two-story wing housed the Panther Teen Dance Center and offices.
Unable to finance needed renovations, the Panther Boys and Girls Club requested permission to bulldoze the buildings in 1995. When the impending demolition came to the attention of the Fairmount area, members of the preservation community banded together and formed the Southside Preservation Association. The building was donated to SPA by the Boys Club. Countless volunteer hours have been spent clearing tons of debris from the building. Graffiti has been eradicated. Broken and boarded windows are being replaced. Fresh paint and landscaping are bringing new life to this beautiful building. Replacement wood frames for the bell tower windows have been built to the same pattern as 1911. Plans call for replacements of all the sactuary windows with new frames and stained glass.
It’s amazing what a combination of elbow grease, volunteers and generous donations will accomplish. The building was born at the turn of one century. It’s been slated for demolition three times. But with a lot of help from people like you, Southside Preservation Hall will shine into another century.
Southside Preservation Association, a non-profit 501(c)3, has been formed to preserve and restore historic Southside Preservation Hall, a multicultural community-based resource center providing educational, cultural and social activities for the community. Proceeds of classes and other activities support the continued preservation and restoration of Southside Preservation Hall. In addition, Southside Preservation Association commits to be a leader in restoration and preservation in the community.