Nineteenth Street Baptist Church (1871-1976)
The Nineteenth Street Baptist Church is the oldest Black Baptist congregation in DC and continues to worship today—but at a new location.
The Nineteenth Street Baptist Church is considered to be the first and oldest Black Baptist congregation in DC. The First Baptist Church, where Nineteenth Street Baptist Church finds its roots, initially described the congregation as interracial. However, when First Baptist Church moved in 1833 from its location on 19th and I Streets NW to a new location, the church began segregating its Black and white parishioners, assigning Black members seats in the gallery. In response, a majority of the Black members chose to return to the original site. They continued to worship under the authority of the First Baptist Church until 1839, when the group organized as a separate congregation, known as the First Colored Baptist Church of Washington.
A committee of Baptist ministers and church members came together to organize this church, including Reverend Jeremiah Moore, Reverend Lewis Richards, Reverend Adam Freeman, Reverend William Parkinson, Charles P. Polk, Cephas Fox, Charles Rogers, John Buchan, Joseph Borrows, and Sarah Borrows. The committee bought Lot 11 in Square 118 on the corner of Nineteenth and I Streets NW to erect a church to be incorporated into The Baptist Church of Christ; the church was later incorporated in 1870 as the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church.
The congregation remained in the church building on the corner of 19th and I Streets NW for 135 years, until they moved in 1975 to their present location at 4606 16th Street NW. Despite being added to the DC Inventory of Historic Sites in 1964, the original Nineteenth Street Baptist Church was demolished in 1976.
DC Inventory: November 8, 1964 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)