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The neighborhood adjacent to the Drury campus has been closely associated with Springfield's African-American community since before the founding of the Drury College in 1873. As the university has expanded throughout the years it has sought to work closely with the neighborhood to strengthen the social and physical infrastructure.
The Washington Avenue Baptist Church, which was located adjacent to the campus, was the second home of Springfield's oldest African-American congregation. The church was constructed in 1885 on a site 200 feet south of its current location. In the late 1990's, as the university was expanding southward, negotiations began with the congregation to help them relocate into a more suitable facility for their current needs. At the time, the Midwest Organization for the Recording and Recognition of Ethnic Heritage recognized the Washington Avenue Baptist Church as the number one most endangered ethnic heritage property in Missouri and the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation recognized it as the fourth most endangered historic place in Missouri. Because the building was in significant need of repair and because the university was interested in acquiring the site of the church for its new science center, the university administration approached the congregation with an offer to provide them with a newer facility at a different location and to relocate, reconstruct and reuse the Washington Avenue Baptist Church on the campus. In 2000, Drury University purchased the church and disassembled it and reconstructed it on a site 200 feet north of its original location. The Washington Street Baptist Church has been returned to its original state and is now used as the University Diversity Center.