6. Thomas Memorial AME Zion Church in Watertown

Thomas Memorial AME Zion Church
Photo by Richard Margolis

In Jefferson County, not far from the Canadian border, is the Thomas Memorial AME Zion Church, which stands as a testament to the struggles and triumphs of the area’s African American community. After forming a congregation in 1878, the church was built in 1909 by its members, many of whom were formerly enslaved railroad workers. Some were active abolitionists, giving the church a connection to the Underground Railroad.

The church has lacked a caretaker since 2017, but a coalition has formed to advocate for its preservation and reuse. “The church is an important attribute to the city of Watertown as well as to the entire North Country. It serves as a focal point for documenting the history of the local African American community,” Shameika Ingram, Founder of Preservation in Color, said in a statement.