Second Baptist Church
The Second Baptist Church is a historic Baptist church located in central Washington, DC. Built in 1894 in the neighborhood of the Mount Vernon Triangle, the Second Baptist Church serves as a symbol of racial diversity within the Washington, DC, area, as it was the second African American Baptist church at the time of its founding. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
Backstory and Context
The Second Baptist Church of Washington, DC, has its roots in the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church of Washington, DC – the first African American Baptist church in the Capitol. In 1848, a small number of members of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church’s congregation left the church with permissions to create a new church in the Washington, DC, area. The Second Baptist Church, lead by Licentiate H.H. Butler, came together that same year but did not have an organized chapel for worship. As a result of this, the newly-formed church instead met in numerous homes for the first few years of the church’s life. The Second Baptist Church continued to grow in membership in the following years, and in 1856, it had enough member and funds in order to buy land and construct a house of worship for the church. The church finished construction of the building in 1856, and it remained as the Second Baptist Church’s residence until it was replaced by another building in 1865. This second building was also replaced, however, as the Second Baptist Church continued to grow in size in the following decades.
In 1894, the third building that the Second Baptist Church occupied was built at 816 3rd Street in order to accommodate for the Church’s rapidly growing congregation and has served as the Church’s permanent residence to the present day. Among other things, the current sanctuary of the Second Baptist Church is noted for being designed by famed architect Appleton P. Clark, Jr. at the height of his architectural career. Throughout the 1900s, the Second Baptist Church underwent several major renovations, chief among these being the additions of pipe organs and the repair of the church’s outer façade. The sanctuary was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.