Pikeville Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
This church is believed to be the oldest rural African American church in the state of Tennessee. The building was constructed in 1869 and served as a both a school and a place of worship until the 1920s. The building served several congregations throughout the 19th and early 20th century. Today, the building is home to one congregation, the Pikesville AME Zion Church.
Backstory and Context
The Freedmen's Bureau in 1869 formally established a building for the use of both a church and a school to be used by the Pikeville, Tennessee region African-American community. The school portion of the building was referred to as "Lincoln Academy".
The school-function of the building lasted until 1925. At that time, the Rosenwald Schools Fund constructed a building for the sole use of education. The school was built near Pikeville and was named Lincoln School. The school closed down in 1965 as desegregation came through the area.
While serving as a church, multiple congregations used the building as a church. In the end most of these congregations moved into more permanent structures, disbanded or joined with other congregations. In 1888, the AME Zion church became the sole congregation to use the building. The church is both still active and still uses the building to this day.
In the early 1990s a survey was conducted through the NRHP and the Tennessee African-American churches association of all African-American churches in the state. It was determined that the Pikeville church was the oldest church for African-Americans in a rural setting.