Mount Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church
84, Franklin Street, Annapolis, Anne Arundel County
The Mount Moriah Church is a 2 1/2-story, gable-front brick church executed in the Gothic Revival style, with brickwork laid in six-course American bond. It features a finely laid, pressed brick facade with three brick belt courses dividing the building into three horizontal bands; brownstone imposts accentuating buttress shoulders; pointed-arched Gothic windows with stained glass; and decorative brickwork including a crow-stepped gable end and corbeling. Set upon a brick foundation, the church is covered with a gable roof, with flared ends, which is clad with slate. On the interior, the church follows a typical auditorium plan, with the sanctuary located on the second floor and classroom and meeting rooms on the first floor. In 1984, when the building opened as the Banneker-Douglass Museum, the interior was altered to accommodate office space on the first floor and museum exhibition space in the sanctuary. A 2 1/2-story addition, made to the rear of the building as part of its 1984 renovation, extends the structure from four to five bays in depth.
The Mount Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church was constructed in 1875 by bridge builder Nathaniel P. Clow. The Gothic Revival style building served as the meeting hall for the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, originally formed in the 1790s, for nearly 100 years. The building was extensively remodeled with fashionable Victorian Gothic embellishments following a violent storm in 1896. In 1970, the meeting hall and its associated parish house were sold to Anne Arundel County. The focus of a lengthy preservation battle, the two-story building was ultimately leased to the Maryland Commission on African-American History and Culture, becoming the state’s official museum for African-American history and culture. The museum, opened in 1984, is named in honor of Benjamin Banneker and the abolitionist/orator, Frederick Douglass, both natives of Maryland. Now known as The Banneker-Douglass Museum, Mt. Moriah was listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.