FIRST AFRICAN BAPTIST CHURCH

(Part 1 of 3)

  I enjoy history and whenever I travel, I work to find something of local interest to tell me about the character of a place and its people.  Often, I find those stories in churches or graveyards. 

  When my husband and I decided to day trip Savannah, Georgia while we were in the south this past winter, I consulted the Internet for information about the most interesting places to investigate. 

     We were going to manage two visits on our trip to Savannah.  We have found the “hop on, hop off” buses, present in most large cities that we have visited in the world, to be an excellent way to get a snapshot of local places of interest.  This trip was no exception.

     As the tour bus swung around the large First African Baptist church building, I felt drawn to it.  The tour guide said that it was mostly built by slaves.  After our tour, we walked in the city, including a visit to Girl Scouts of America founder Juliet Gordon Lowe’s home. 

When we came back to the church after our rambling, it was closed.  I peeked through the old keyhole and could barely see the interior, lit by the waning daylight.  I was frustrated, but determined to have a tour.  When we returned to our motor home later that evening, I began looking for information about the church’s history and operating hours. 

My particular intrigue with the building came from this remark:  “The ceiling of the church is in the design of a ‘Nine Patch Quilt’ which represented that the church was a safe house for slaves. Nine Patch Quilts also served as a map and guide informing people where to go next or what to look out for during their travel.”

Of course, being a long time reader and contributor to Ninepatch, I had to see the ceiling for myself!

Ceiling of the church.

Ceiling of the church.

We planned to return for a tour the following week. 

Linda Rosenthal (Mar. ‘17) adds, “The church has a web page (search for First African Baptist Church, Savannah) which explains its history.”

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