By the early 2000s, Pickett Chapel was vacant, in a state of disrepair, and in desperate need of structural stabilization and restoration. In 2007, 180 years after its construction, the Wilson County Black History Committee (WCBHC), many of whom were congregational descendants of the founding African American congregation in 1866, purchased the Chapel and began restoration efforts with technical assistance from MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation (CHP) and funding from the Tennessee Historical Commission, began restoration efforts.
In 2006, the CHP prepared a historic structures report that described the Chapel’s architecture and photo-document the building as it then existed. The CHP report also interviewed former congregants and conducted preliminary archival research. Two years later, after the WCBHC had purchased the Chapel, a professional architect and architectural historian was hired to conduct a detailed condition assessment to guide the restoration and rehabilitation of the Chapel (Melvin Gill & Associates; Michael Emerick 2008). The Gill and Emerick report identified ten critical repairs related to the structural stability and safety of the structure; included in this list were temporary exterior wall shoring, permanent roof/wall ties, reconstruction of east wall, repair/rebuild masonry cornice, new roof and cupola restoration, drainage, temporary protection of remaining windows, repair/replace of wood roof eave trim, exterior painting. Except for the windows and doors, all of the structural and exterior improvements identified in the 2008 condition assessment were completed with the help of many public and private donors.
Since 2017, the WCBHC commissioned the manufacture of custom-milled wood front doors, which were installed in 2018, along with the reconstruction of an arched brick lintel in the front vestibule. In 2019, efforts were made to rehabilitate the existing windows, but it was determined that they were too far gone. New windows were consequently ordered and installed. With the exterior repairs completed, doors and windows installed, the WCBHC is ready to turn its attention toward repair, rehabilitation, and restoration of the Chapel’s interior. The WCBHC has recently adopted new bylaws, expanded the Board of Directors, and assembled a team of professionals to guide the restoration.