The First African Baptist Church in Savannah
The First African Baptist Church has a long and storied history in Savannah Georgia. It is thought to be the oldest African-American Congregation in the United States. The congregation was formed in 1733 by Reverend George Leile. The building which houses the Church was finished in 1859, almost 100 years after the land was obtained for the church. The man who oversaw the completion of the Church was Reverend William J. Campbell.
The First African Baptist Church holds tours on weekdays. While the hours are listed to the right we advise that you call the Church ahead of time to make sure that they tours and their starting times have not changed. If you are going to only tour one building while in Savannah, the First African Baptist Church is an excellent selection. The historical features inside of the Church are unbelievable at times. From the original 1832 Pipe Organ to the carvings on the ends of the Pews which were made by slaves, the Church has no short of hidden secrets to keep you wanting to explore.
The Underground Railroad and the First African Baptist Church
The First African Baptist Church was used as a stop along the Underground Railroad. For the safety of those who offered refuge, no records were kept of how many slaves used the Church on their way to the North. A unique feature in the Church which relates to the Underground Railroad are the holes in the floor in certain areas of the Church. These holes are arranged in a pattern known as a Congolese Cosmogram. This pattern represented life so it fit with the church. The real reason for these holes were breathing holes for slaves who were hidden beneath the floorboards.
A different design aspect of the Church also signifies it as a stop along the Underground Railroad. The ceiling of the Church is designed with what is called a Nine Patch Quilt. This design showed that this was a place of resting and safety for the slaves who used the Church. Of course it was a hidden signal that only certain people knew about. Most people would have thought the Nine Patch Quilt simply a beautiful design.
To gain entry into the Underground Railroad area of the Church slaves would have entered through a tunnel. The location of where this tunnel remains a mystery to this day. Some people believe the tunnel went all the way to the River while others speculate that it may have been connected to one of the neighboring structures.
The Church Today
In present times the First African Baptist Church is still a place of worship. This is the main reason why tours of the Church are not given on the weekend. The First African Baptists Church is a leader in the community, helping out all who need it. The programs enacted by, and offered through the Church have surely changed the lives of many people living in Savannah Georgia.
Getting to the First African Baptist Church
The First African Baptist Church is located on Franklin Square, directly west of the City Market area. You can park on the street on in the parking garage located underneath of Ellis Square for easy access to the First African Baptist Church.
23 Montgomery Street, Savannah Georgia 31401
First African Baptist Church
Tuesday and Thursday: 11 am and 1 pm
Wednesday, Friday and Saturday: 11 am and 2 pm
Adults: $7.00 | Students and Seniors: $6.00
Learn more about The First African Baptist Church on our Savannah Historic Church Tour
We are soo confident that you'll love your tour that if you don't we'll give you your money back. Seriously!
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Or Call our Office at 504-210-8540.