ST. LOUIS — A local film and TV producer is raising money to redevelop the historic Second Baptist Church in the Central West End into a gospel music hall of fame.
Monica Butler, founder of production company the Butler Group, says the 40,000-square-foot project will feature a state-of-the-art sound stage and film theater, hall of fame museum, education center, café, courtyard and event space. She plans to call it the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Cultural Arts, Entertainment and Gospel Research Center.
The $22 million project, at the city’s famous “Holy Corners,” is personal to Butler, who said her mother, Jacqueline Butler, sang and recorded music with legendary gospel group the O’Neal Twins.
“Music brings people and cultures together, and you can’t listen to gospel music and not be moved,” Butler said in a statement. “The Gospel Music Hall of Fame will focus on this celebrated aspect of Black culture ... and become an anchor of the community while inspiring visitors of all races and religions through the power of song.”
Built in 1907, the church, at 500 North Kingshighway Boulevard, was designated as an official St. Louis Landmark and is in the National Register of Historic Places.
Butler does not own the property and has started a capital campaign to help fund her vision.
She is partnering with Steve Smith, CEO of St. Louis-based Lawrence Group and co-founder of New + Found. Lawrence Group will design and construct the project, and New + Found will help develop.
“This is an ambitious project, and a great opportunity to preserve a part of St. Louis history,” Smith said in a statement.
The old Second Baptist Church, which stands amid stately churches built around the time of the 1904 World's Fair, has fallen into severe disrepair.