Tagged: FIrst African Baptist Church

deTour: First African Baptist Church

The Blue Grass Trust’s deTours  is a group of young professionals (and the young at heart).  The program provides behind-the-scenes tours of  historic buildings, places, and sites in central Kentucky.   BGT deTours are free and open to the public. They occur on the first Wednesday of every month.

Sunday, HISTPRES shared the story of First African Baptist Church.  Jump on over and check it out!

Below is a photo essay about our visit to the site.  If you are interested in furthering the First African Foundation’s mission to purchase and renovate the church please go to their site to donate or learn more.

Advertisements

Bricks + Mortar @ HISTPRES!

I am super excited to announce that today you’ll find Bricks + Mortar over at HISTPRES! This is just the start of what I’m hoping will be a long and fruitful collaboration. HISTPRES curates opportunities, stories, and news for preservationists.

The portico and collegiate tudor addition were built in 1926.

The impressive First African Baptist Church in Lexington, KY was built when most of its congregation was held in slavery.

This month, African American history and the Civil Rights Movement have been headlining the news thanks to the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s pivotal “I Have a Dream” speech.

Before it was an organized movement with leaders like King, communities of people were quietly working in cities and towns across the country to advance the rights of minorities. In Lexington, Kentucky the First African Baptist Church organized to support the faith of enslaved people in area. It grew to become a powerful force in the African American community that provided education, entertainment and faith-based services.

Jump over to HISTPRES to learn more about the congregation and the magnificent church they built as monument to their faith and their strength before the Civil War gave them freedom and before the Civil Rights Movement gave them hope for equality.

The First African Foundation is currently battling to to purchase, rehabilitate and reopen the building so that it can once again serve the greater community.

deTour: The Old Episcopal Burying Ground

The Blue Grass Trust’s deTours  is a group of young professionals (and the young at heart).  The program provides behind-the-scenes tours of  historic buildings, places, and sites in central Kentucky.   BGT deTours are free and open to the public. They occur on the first Wednesday of every month.

Old Episcopal Burying Ground and Chapel at the corner of Third and Elm Tree Lane in Lexington, KY.

In honor of Halloween, BGT deTours took us to the Old Episcopal Burying Ground and Chapel this month to hear legends and lore associated with the cemetery.  (We also toured Lexington’s Fire Station #1 because October is Fire Prevention month. More on that tomorrow).

The Old Episcopal Burying Ground (OEBG) is located on Third Street in Lexington.  It sits on 2 acres of land purchased by Christ Church Episcopal in 1832.  The cemetery is referred to as the “old” burying ground because no one has been interred there since 1870. Although it was nicknamed “Lexington’s Westminster Abbey” because it was the resting place of Lexington’s  most prominent citizens, many of the bodies have been moved to the more fashionable Lexington Cemetery. Established in 1849,  the much larger cemetery is laid out in the romantic park-like style favored during the Victorian age.

This grave marker was designed by notable architect, Gideon Shyrock, for his parents. His mother was a victim of the 1833 Cholera epidemic.

The OEBG was particularly important during the 1833 Cholera Epidemic.  Over 1500 Lexingtonians were infected by the disease and it caused 502 deaths.  Over 1/3 of Christ Church’s congregation perished.

William “King” Salomon, the town drunk, became  a Lexington folk hero during the epidemic.  He worked day and night digging graves and burying victims.  Legend has it that he was unaffected by the disease because he never drank water, only booze. And if, by chance, he had been infected, the bacteria was killed by the alcohol content of his blood.  It is believed that he dug many of the ca. 1833 graves at the OEBG.

The only person of color buried in the OEBG, is Rev. London Ferrill, a former slave who ministered to the black population of Lexington at the First African Church, now the First African Baptist Church.  He was one of only three ministers who did not flee during the 1833 epidemic, which claimed the life of his wife.

Damaged headstones at the OEBG

It was noted in the OEBG’s nomination to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, that many inscriptions were mostly obliterated and many headstones were damaged by neglect or vandalism.

Gothic Revival Chapel/Cottage at the center of the OEBG

A Gothic Revival cottage sits at the center of the Old Episcopal Burying Ground.  Built in 1867 to serve as a chapel, the building’s design has been linked to John McMurtry, a popular Lexington architect and builder.   It’s steeply pitched roof, lace barge boards, trefoil window, hooded entrance, and gable windows are typical of the Gothic Revival style.  The building was later converted for use as a sexton cottage and later as a caretaker’s residence.

The presses in the vestry stored vestments, they sport crenelated details.

A kitchen and bathroom were added.

It’s most recent renovation took place in 1947 with the help of noted architectural historian, Clay Lancaster.

Check back tomorrow for a glimpse into Fire Station #1