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RICHMOND
Leigh Street Baptist Church

Leigh St. Baptist Church
Leigh Street Baptist Church
City of Richmond
Department of Community Development

 

Well-known Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan designed the Leigh Street Baptist Church. Dedicated in 1857, the handsome Greek Revival style building is a fine example of its style. The church is also historically significant as an active part of the community and for its good works that earned it the name “The Church of the Helping Hand.”

In the early 19th century, residential neighborhoods in the Church Hill section of Richmond began to develop as “walking suburbs” of Richmond. Richmond’s Baptists attended the First Baptist Church on Broad Street near the Capitol that dated from 1790. First Baptist was on the other side of Shockoe Creek and Shockoe Valley from the Church Hill neighborhood, and the difficulty in getting to the church naturally prompted Church Hill residents to establish their own church.

In 1854, the Baptists in the Church Hill area organized Leigh Street Baptist Church with missionary Reuben Ford as its first pastor. The congregation grew rapidly. The need for a substantial new sanctuary prompted the congregation to obtain the design for a new church building in 1854 from Samuel Sloan, a prominent Baptist layman best known for his architectural pattern books. The congregation followed the taste of Richmond congregations from many denominations during the late antebellum period in choosing a Greek Revival temple-form building. Leigh Street Baptist, as completed to Sloan’s design, was one of the finest Greek Revival sanctuaries of its day with its full portico and six fluted columns in the Greek Doric order. The exterior of the brick building is clad in stucco rendered to resemble stone. Like many buildings of its time, the church has a raised basement for meeting rooms on the first floor. The church has ornate cast iron stair railings dating from the construction of the present granite porch in the 1880's and a fence that is original from the 1850's period. The congregation added an attached education building around 1890.

The church has had a strong congregation active in the community and distinguished pastors. The Leigh Street Baptist Church congregation still occupies the building, which is an important landmark on 25th Street.

Plan your visit
Leigh Street Baptist Church is located at 517 North 25th St. at Leigh St. The church is still an active place of worship open to the public for worship services. Call 804-648-0415 for information.
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