St. Augustine's Church, in collaboration with Lower East Side Tenement Museum
The Slave Galleries Restoration Project Case Study: St. Augustine's Episcopal Church and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum [PDF]
by Liz Ševčenko, Reverend Deacon Edgar W. Hopper, and Lisa Chice

The Slave Galleries Project was a collaboration between St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum to restore and interpret the two slave galleries located in the church—cramped rooms where African American congregants were segregated during the nineteenth century. Over a year’s time, guided by two dialogue professionals experienced in intergroup relations, community preservationists first talked among themselves about issues of marginalization on the Lower East Side. 

The Slave Galleries Project illuminates issues of ownership of history: Who controls the course and terms of projects like this one that are at once a link to specific histories, but that also have broader civic intent? How do we honor the history of a particular group and retain the focus on that specific group’s history, while also drawing upon its relevance to other groups’ experiences? The case study explores issues of authority in decision-making, as well as control of resource allocation through the multiple relationships in the project—in the partnership between St. Augustine’s Church and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, in the priority of the Slave Galleries Project in relation to other Lower East Side community preservation efforts, and in the relationship of the project to external entities like Animating Democracy. Beyond the single project focus of the slave galleries, the Slave Galleries Project is also an excellent example of building and sustaining the community’s capacity for civic dialogue through the creation of a cadre of community preservationists skilled in civic dialogue facilitation—community leaders who could imagine and apply their skill and understanding to other sites and issues on the Lower East Side.

Back to Top | Back to Full List