The emancipation of slaves was heralded by federal officials in Galveston on June 19, 1865. Antioch became Houston's first African American Baptist Church when organized by nine former area slaves in 1866. Their first sanctuary, built nearby in 1868,served as the site of Texas' first African American Baptist Convention.
The Rev. John Henry Yates (1828-1897), elected Antioch's first full-time pastor in 1868, led efforts to improve the education of Houston's African Americans and helped establish the Houston Baptist Academy in 1885.
This sanctuary, built in 1875-79, began as a one-story structure designed by church member Richard Allen. It was enlarged in the 1890s and underwent major alterations in the 1930s. The nationally recognized Gothic Revival masonry building features stained glass windows containing portraits of prominent church figures, steep cross gables, pointed arch windows and doors, and a distinctive neon "Jesus Saves" sign.
Once the center of a cohesive African American community, Antioch served as the mother church for many area African American Baptist congregations. The church continues to provide leadership in religious, civic, and educational activities as Houston's oldest and preeminent African American Baptist congregation.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1994