Fugitive Slave Chapel Preservation Project, commonly refered to as The Chapel Project, aims to relocate the Fugitive Slave Chapel from its current location on Grey Street to Fanshawe Pioneer Village. The Chapel will be fully restored and repurposed to teach about slavery, the Underground Railroad, and London's Black histories.
In 1848, the African Methodist Episcopal Church congregation in London, Canada West, built a wood frame church at 275 Thames Street. The congregation became part of the British Methodist Episcopal Church in 1856. It was a central institution in London’s black community. and is one of many important 19th century Black heritage sites in North America.
When faced with demolition, London citizens rallied together in support and founded the “Fugitive Slave Chapel Preservation Project” in the spring of 2013. The London Black History Coordinating Committee was one of the organizations that was part of the committee and continues to be a major facilitator to the project.
In the spring of 2021, the British Methodist Episcopal Church offered to gift the building known as the Fugitive Slave Chapel to Fanshawe Pioneer Village as a possible location that might be better suited to preserve, promote and share its rich history, and to provide education about the involvement of London in the Underground Railroad.
With demonstrated community support, the Museum’s Board of Directors agreed to accept the building conditional on the receipt of a positive third-party legal opinion, and when the funds and in-kind support for the relocation and restoration project reach a minimum level of $300,000. The Board has also partnered with representatives of London’s Black Communities to create a committee for the purpose of developing and implementing an interpretation plan for the Chapel, and Black History at the Village. The committee is composed of partners from community groups including the London Black History Coordinating Committee, Black Lives Matter London, the Congress of Black Women of Canada - London Chapter and other interested community members, to ensure that the Chapel is authentically interpreted.
A fundraising campaign has begun with a goal of raising $300,000 to ensure this important piece of Black history is preserved, and its story is shared for future generations. If you would like to donate, a dedicated “Chapel Project” fund has been established at the London Community Foundation. ( Donate — London Community Foundation (lcf.on.ca) )