Skip to Main Content

Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Coalition raises funds to preserve former First Baptist Church

May 7, 2023

KALAMAZOO, MI (WKZO AM/FM) – A fundraising effort has begun to renovate a venerable Kalamazoo structure.

The Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Coalition (KNAC) announced its “Inspire” campaign Thursday, May 4, with a target of 11 million dollars. The funds will be used to renovate the former First Baptist Church downtown.

The building is the oldest structure in Kalamazoo, and is the only remaining building in Kalamazoo that former President Abraham Lincoln would have seen during his visit in 1856.

The downtown building includes offices, event and meeting rooms, two theatres, studios, and a 450-seat performance hall.

KNAC now owns the building, which houses several different organizations, including the Baptist Church, which still meets there. When the renovation effort is completed, over 60 organizations will be able to call it their home.

At Thursday’s public announcement of the fund drive, co-chairs Ann Fergemann, retired Philanthropic Advisor at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, and Jeff Ross of Jeff K. Ross Financial Services invited the public to join in the fundraising effort which will continue through the end of the year.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to preserve one of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in downtown Kalamazoo,” said Fergemann, “and we’re so grateful to the First Baptist Congregation for this wonderful gift. When our work is done, we’ll have an improved home for up to 60 fledgling nonprofits and for-profits that enrich our community.”

Ross stated, “I’m most excited about the 450-seat performance venue that sits in the center of our building. We have a list of local arts organizations that have expressed interest in hosting events here, and we can envision this single building drawing thousands of southwest Michigan residents to the heart of downtown Kalamazoo to dine, shop, and enjoy world-class musical or artistic performances.”

Fergemann announced that the campaign has received support from local and regional foundations, area businesses, and generous community donors.

“We’re confident that we’ll receive approximately $8 million in public funding to help make this dream a reality. Our Campaign Cabinet joins me in thanking the community for their meaningful gifts. We now invite the broader community to help us complete this campaign effort, and we welcome gifts of all sizes,” said Fergemann.

“This is an exceptional opportunity for our community to invest in the vitality of our downtown,” said Ross. “If we can provide collaborative space to these growing organizations, we know our community will benefit for years to come,” he said.

To donate, or for more information, go to:

Read the full Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Coalition raises funds to preserve former First Baptist Church article here.

Posted in News

Image of First Baptist Church

Archives by Month: