Historic Mechanicsville church deemed unsafe after November crash, tower to be rebuilt (Update)

Museum Bar co-owner says reports that the 19th-century structure has been condemned are false.


  • Joeff Davis
  • St. Stephen's Missionary Baptist Church where a fatal accident, in November, killed a FedEx delivery driver.

Atlanta officials have shut down roads surrounding a historic building in Mechanicsville months after a fatal wreck caused significant damage to the property.

Over the weekend, Atlanta officials have deemed a late 19th-century sanctuary once home to St. Stephen's Missionary Baptist Church unsafe due to permanent damage stemming from a bus accident last November. The building now houses Museum Bar, which three years ago opened inside the former church located two blocks away from Turner Field.

Nearly four months ago, a FedEx truck and Gwinnett County bus collided in a crash and hit the building. The delivery driver, 41-year-old McDonough resident Jorge Pena, died in the incident and the bus driver, who allegedly ran the red light, sustained serious injuries.

The AJC first reported on Sunday that Atlanta Fire and Rescue Department officials had condemned the building and planned to demolish the structure. But contrary to the newspaper's report, Museum Bar co-owner Jarvis Bowman tells CL that the establishment will not be condemned.

"The tower is unstable following the Gwinnett Transit Bus & FedEx Truck accident in November," Bowman says. "They are going to knock the tower down and rebuild it. Museum Bar will be back as soon as they finish reconstruction on the tower."

Carlos Campos, Mayor Kasim Reed's interim director of communications, this afternoon confirmed with CL that the building has not been condemned.

"We issued them on Saturday a notice of unsafe building after workers erecting scaffolding noted significant movement in the brick veneer on the tower," Campos says. "They were given 48 hours to provide us with a plan to rectify the problem. We will inspect the building daily until we are certain the issue is resolved."

Bowman says that a permit will be issued today to remove the tower's brick facade. If city's engineer lets them move forward with rebuilding plans, Bowman says Museum Bar could reopen on June 1, 2014.

Due to falling debris, Atlanta Police spokeswomen Kim Jones says that Ralph D. Abernathy Boulevard between Pryor and Pulliam streets has been shut down to protect pedestrians and motorists. Expect delays if you're traveling through the area today. APD is suggesting three detours:

Detour One (1)
North on Central Avenue, left onto Dodd Ave SW, right onto Formwalt Street, right onto Glenn Street, left onto Central Avenue.

Detour Two (2)
West on Ralph D. Abernathy Blvd, left onto Windsor Street

Detour Three (3)
East on Ralph D. Abernathy Blvd, left onto Pulliman Street/Dobb Avenue, left onto Central Avenue.

To help ease congestion this morning, public works officials are posting message boards pointing to alternate routes. APD officers are also helping direct traffic in the area. We're also told that two lanes on Ralph D. Abernathy Boulevard will stay closed and a three-block stretch of Central Street will remain shut down entirely until further notice.

NOTE: The post has been updated to include additional information.