Known as “Little Ebenezer” in the mid-19th century, the Ebenezer United Methodist Church became one of the first African American congregations on Capitol Hill and the first public school in DC open to African American children. The congregation came together due to racial segregation policies in place at the interracial church: African American and white congregants could attend the same services, but were segregated once inside the church, with African American congregants seated in the galleries of the church. Having outgrown the galleries of their original church, the African American congregants moved to their own church in 1838.
After settling in their new location, the congregation continued to grow and expand its services, including a private school run by the church. However, an 1862 federal law requiring DC public schools to accept African American students transformed the private school into a public school. The school became the first public school for African American children, with Emma V. Brown as its first teacher.
While the existing building was constructed in 1897, the congregation has occupied the same location since their original move six decades earlier. The current building was designed by architects Crump and Palmer in a blend of Romanesque and Neo-Colonial styles. The church still operates out of this building today.
DC Inventory: May 21, 1975
Within Capitol Hill Historic District.