RICHMOND, Va. -- A Recontruction-era church whose congregation dates back to 1870s was recognized Saturday for its important role in Richmond’s history.
Westwood Baptist Church was dedicated with a state historical marker by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
Westwood Baptist was created in 1872 when a group of formerly enslaved African Americans started meeting for Bible study.
“You can't talk about Westwood, the community, without talking about Westwood Church. And you can't talk about Westwood Church without talking about the community," Tammy Rose, the church's co-chair of the community outreach and civic engagement ministry, said.
Virginia's historical marker program is the oldest in the country with more than 2,600 historical sites dedicated in the state.
The text on the historical marker reads:
Westwood Baptist Church
This church, two blocks north, traces its origins to 1872, when a group of formerly enslaved African Americans began meeting for Bible study at the home of Robert Pemberton. In 1876, the congregation’s trustees purchased a half-acre lot for $25 for the Westwood Colored Baptist Church. The Rev. George Daggett, first pastor, served for two decades. Early baptisms took place in nearby Jordan’s Branch. A vibrant African American community, originally in Henrico County and later annexed by the City of Richmond, developed around the church. Many 20th-century pastors graduated from the Virginia Union University seminary. Their oratorical skills and political leadership fostered a thriving church.