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Church Hill road closed because of unsafe church

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RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) – The city of Richmond has closed a section of Q Street from 27th to 28th Streets because of fears over the stability of the structure of a nearby church.

The church is owned by Spirit of God Ministries and Pastor Jeff Lee.

Lee tells CBS 6 the church is putting on a new roof and that in the process of removing the roof some of the walls began to sag.

“It can be dangerous,” Church Hill resident Maryann Smith said.

“I think a lot of these old buildings don't have a very solid foundation and they start to sag,” Smith added.

Police arrived on scene and roped off the area surrounding the church late Saturday night.

The church was built in 1906 and purchased by Lee for $50,000 dollars. According to Lee, the building needs over $700,000 dollars in renovations.

“It’s a blow to the community,” Amy Swartz, a preservation specialist with the Richmond Historical foundation, told CBS 6.

Swartz believes the church, like many other owners of historical properties, have struggled to raise enough money to properly renovate the church in this economy.

“It is a challenge - especially with this economy,” Swartz said.  

“People are putting their priorities in human interests and not buildings,” Swartz added.

Swartz estimates the Historic Richmond Foundation receives over a thousand calls each year asking for financial assistance regarding historic Richmond properties.

Lee tells CBS 6 that he hopes when the roof is put back on the structural stability of the church improves.

Until then nearby residents are worried about safety.

“You'll never know when one of these old buildings will just crumble, Saltan Cheeks, a neighbor of the church, said.