The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church contributes significantly to the cultural heritage and visual beauty of DC. The organization of the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church grew out of dissatisfaction among Blacks with the white Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church in 1820. Dissatisfied parishioners organized themselves and sent a petition in 1822 to Bishop Richard Allen, requesting admission to the Baltimore Conference. Permission was granted, establishing the first A.M.E. Church in DC as the Israel Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. After the US government acquired the original Israel Bethel A.M.E. Church property, the congregation again petitioned the Baltimore Conference in 1870. The General Conference recommended a new church be built and that “each annual conference be requested to give at least one hundred dollars for the new building.” Subsequently, the Israel Bethel Church withdrew from the conference.
In 1872 the congregation changed its name to Metropolitan A.M.E. Church. and in 1884, the General Conference authorized Union Bethel Church Society to build the new church; Union Bethel A.M.E. was organized in a private home for worship purposes. Completed in 1886, the church was designed in the Victorian Gothic style by architect Samuel G.T. Morsell (1823-1909).
Throughout its history, the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church has remained an important site for many in the Black DC community. For instance, the funerals of Frederick Douglass, Blanche K. Bruce, and Rosa Parks have all been held in the church, and President Barack Obama attended services there prior to his second inauguration in 2013.
DC Inventory: April 24, 1973
National Register: July 26, 1973