Home of former slave who founded 1st Black church in Huntington set to be demolished
The home of a former slave and founder of Huntington's AME Bethel Church is set to be demolished by the town of Huntington.
The Rev. Larry Jennings says the town's decision to demolish the home of Peter Grippen is poor timing and unfortunate.
"This is a very special and important piece of history of the African American presence in the Town of Huntington," said Jennings.
The house on Creek Road, right next to the town's waste treatment facility, is where Grippen lived in 1864.
Grippen, a free slave from Virginia, was among a group of men who founded a church back in 1843 and that is significant because it is the oldest Black church in the Town of Huntington. It is now where Jennings preaches.
Historian Nancy Solomon says the home, owned by the town and part of a gristmill built in 1657, suffered from neglect.
"It's quite distressing a site that is a colonial settlement also part of the African American slave population will be destroyed," said Solomon.
Town officials say the site will be turned into a parking lot but that anything of historic significance will be saved.
As of now there is no date set for the home's demolition, but the town says it should happen by the end of the summer.