African Meeting House

The African Meeting House, also known variously as First African Baptist Church, First Independent Baptist Church and the Belknap Street Church, was built in 1806 and is now the oldest black church edifice still standing in the United States. It is located in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, adjacent to the African American Abiel Smith School. It is a National Historic Landmark.HistoryChurchBefore 1805, although black Bostonians could attend white churches, they generally faced discrimination. They were assigned seats only in the balconies and were not given voting privileges.Thomas Paul, an African-American preacher from New Hampshire, led worship meetings for blacks at Faneuil Hall. Paul, with twenty of his members, officially formed the First African Baptist Church on August 8, 1805. In the same year, land was purchased for a building. The African Meeting House, as it came to be commonly called, was completed the next year. At the public dedication on December 6, 1806, the first-floor pews were reserved for all those "benevolently disposed to the Africans," while the black members sat in the balcony of their new meeting house.Ministers Thomas Paul, c. 1805-1829 John Peck, c. 1830 Washington Christian, c. 1831 Thomas Ritchie, c. 1832 Samuel Gooch, c. 1833-1834 John Given, c. 1835 Armstrong W. Archer, c. 1837 George H. Black, c. 1838-1840 John T. Raymond, c. 1841-1845 William B. Serrington, c. 1848-1849 William Thompson, c. 1851-1853 Thomas Henson, c. 1856-1858 J. Sella Martin, c. 1860-1862 H.H. White, c. 1864

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46 Joy St
Boston, MA
02114

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