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The Museum of African American History is dedicated to preserving, conserving and accurately interpreting the contributions of African Americans in New England from the colonial period through the 19th century.

 

 

 

Image: Experience the newly restored African Meeting House - click on image to learn more about this historic restoration.


Site 5
Charles Street Meeting House
Mt. Vernon and Charles Street

Image: Charles St. Meeting HouseThis meeting house was built in 1807 by the white Third Baptist Church of Boston. The question arose sometime later as to whether this name was not strictly the property of the African church on Smith Court. The name was consequently changed to Charles Street Baptist Church.

The segregationist tradition of New England church seating patterns prevailed here. In the mid-1830s, they were challenged by one of the church's abolitionist members, Timothy Gilbert, who invited some black friends to his pew one Sunday to test the rule. Gilbert was expelled.

Joined by other white abolitionist Baptists, Gilbert went on to found the First Baptist Free Church which became the Tremont Temple, "the first integrated church in America."

After the Civil War, the black population of Boston increased considerably, and the largest of its churches purchased this building in 1876. The African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.) remained here until 1939. It was the last black institution to leave Beacon Hill. Today the Charles Street A.M.E. is located on Elm Hill Avenue and Warren Street in Roxbury.

Photo credit: Boston Athenaeum

Next: Lewis and Harriet Hayden House

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