The First African Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia—Interior of the church, from the western wing
William Ludwell Sheppard, artist
Published in 1874
Library of Congress
The First African Baptist Church of Richmond was founded in 1841 by black members of Richmond’s First Baptist Church. The First Baptist Church housed a multiracial congregation from its beginning in 1802, until the white members of the congregation built a new church in 1841. The split occurred after whites, who constituted a minority at the church, became uncomfortable with being outnumbered. Black members also sought their own worship space because they were often denied entrance to their own church when the building was crowded.
After the new First Baptist Church was constructed for the white members, the church leadership sold the original building to the black members. Both enslaved and free blacks worshiped in the renamed “First African Baptist Church”.
In 1876 the original building was torn down and the congregation dedicated a new building the following year.
 

The First African Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia—Interior of the church, from the western wing

William Ludwell Sheppard, artist

Published in 1874

Library of Congress

The First African Baptist Church of Richmond was founded in 1841 by black members of Richmond’s First Baptist Church. The First Baptist Church housed a multiracial congregation from its beginning in 1802, until the white members of the congregation built a new church in 1841. The split occurred after whites, who constituted a minority at the church, became uncomfortable with being outnumbered. Black members also sought their own worship space because they were often denied entrance to their own church when the building was crowded.

After the new First Baptist Church was constructed for the white members, the church leadership sold the original building to the black members. Both enslaved and free blacks worshiped in the renamed “First African Baptist Church”.

In 1876 the original building was torn down and the congregation dedicated a new building the following year.