Pennsylvania Avenue Heritage Trail
Churches serve as more than places of worship in Baltimore's black communities. Led by strong clergy, African American churches have nurtured the soul, fed, clothed, and housed the poor, fought for civil rights, supported business and job placement, and provided a variety of leisure-time activities. Old West Baltimore churches served as models for other communities across the nation by combining financial support, spiritual development, activism and education.
In 1850, Baltimore had the largest denominational variety of African American churches in the country. On the eve of the Civil War, the New York Weekly Anglo-African Newspaper reported that "no city where I have been can boast of better churches among our people. Baltimore churches are not a whit behind, either in beauty or attendance, for our people are a church-going people." By 1860, the African American community thrived on the foundation of more than 16 churches and missions in Baltimore.
In the 20th century, more than 12 churches resided in Old West Baltimore. These churches helped found and nurture almost every civic institution in the community; Provident Hospital, the YMCA and YWCA, the DuBois Circle, Niagara Movement Baltimore Chapter, Morgan State College, the Young People's Movement, and many more. Within the walls of the church, a sense of security
hovered in the air, eclipsing Baltimore's racial prejudices.
Sharp Street Memorial United Methodist Church (1797-present)Bethel A.M.E. Church (1816-present) St. James Episcopal Church (1824-present) Orchard Street Church (1825-1970) Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church (1848-present) Union Baptist Church (1852-present) St Peter Claver Roman Catholic Church ((1873-present) Macedonia Baptist Church (1874-present) Sharon Baptist Church (1882-present) Trinity Baptist Church (1888-present) Douglas Memorial Church (1925-present) New Metropolitan Baptist Church St. Catherine's Episcopal Church.
(Inscriptions on the right) Bethel AME Church
Bethel AME began in 1787 as a prayer group known as the Colored Methodist Society. In 1816 this group sent delegates to Philadelphia to help establish the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first denomination in the world to form on account of race. The church moved to Druid Hill Avenue and Lanvale Street in 1910. In the 1950's and '60s, clergy from Bethel participated in protests against Jim Crow laws. Reverend Frank Reid II (pastor 1964-68) marched in Alabama with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and at age 85, Reverend Harrison Bryant (pastor 1948-64) was incarcerated for protesting at the South African Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Union Baptist Church
place for civil rights activities and the staging place for Baltimore participants in the 1963 March on Washington, Union Baptist Church began in 1852 and moved to Druid Hill Avenue in 1905. Under the leadership of Dr. Harvey Johnson this church helped create the Mutual United Brotherhood of Liberty, cofounded the Niagara Movement and the NAACP Baltimore Branch, and created the Colored
Sharp Street Methodist Church
Founded in 1797, this Methodist congregation ran the Sharp Street School and helped found the Centenary Biblical Institute (now Morgan State University). They hosted many civil rights activities, including meetings of the Maryland Branch of the Niagara Movement and of the Citywide Young People's Forum of Baltimore, which spearheaded anti-lynching and equal employment campaigns. The church moved to Dolphin an Etting streets in 1896.
Trinity Baptist Church
Founded in June 1883 by Reverend Dr. Garnett Russell Weller, Trinity Baptist played an integral role in the Baltimore Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Waller was Maryland's representative to the Niagara Movement, a national civil rights organization led by W.E.B. DuBois that predated the NAACP. Waller cofounded Baltimore's branch of the NAACP and the Colored YMCA with Dr. Harvey Johnson and others.
Reverse Side of the MarkerWelcome
Take a walk through history in storied Old West Baltimore. You'll relive the glory days of Pennsylvania Avenue and its surrounding neighborhoods. Follow the lives of inspiring people. Tour churches that served as places of empowerment and beacons of enlightenment, and gain new perspective on this African American community's role in the struggle for civil rights. Explore at your own pace following these story signs to learn about Baltimore African Americans who helped build a city and changed the face of American music, art, literature and politics.
(Inscriptions under the images on the right) 1.Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Maryland 2.The Lillie Carroll Jackson Museum 3.Douglas Memorial Community Church 4.Elks Lodge 5.Morriah Keyhole Houses 6.Booker T. Washington Middle School 7.Bethel AME Church 8.Union Baptist Church 9.Sharp Street Methodist Church 10.Henry Highland Garnet School/PS 103 11.The Royal Theatre Marquee Monument 12.Billie Holliday Plaza 13.Macedonia Baptist Church 14.The Comedy Club 15.Trinity Baptist Church 16.YMCA 17.Ideal Savings and Loan 18.Baltimore Masjid 19.Thurgood Marshall's Childhood Home 20.Romare Bearden Mural.
(Inscriptions under the images) *Listen, Can you feel it pulsating down the Street of Royalty? *It's bee-bop, jazz, comedy—and of course—the blues. *All the greats were here. Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, Fats Waller, Eubie Blake and more! *Learn about African American politicians and lawyers like William Ashbie Hawkins and George McMechan who fought against on ordinance segregating whites and blacks block by block. *Visit churches that nurtured the soul, and also fed, clothed and housed the poor. *Follow Thurgood Marshall from Henry Highland Garnet School/PS 103, to winning landmark Supreme Court cases, to becoming a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. *Learn how Old West Baltimore residents and church leaders played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement and in the Buy Where You Can Work jobs campaign.