In 1973 St. Joseph’s AME Church moved from its historic church building. Within a month of the move, St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation incorporated to save the 1890s sanctuary and 1951 addition.
The city council twice approved funds for the Foundation in its early years, indicating a new willingness of local government to use tax money to support the arts.
In 1985 the Foundation switched the use of the former church from a general arts, civic, and performance facility to a black cultural heritage center. Called Hayti Heritage Center, it is named after the neighborhood in which the building stands.