Cumberland A.M.E. Church Cornerstone Ceremony
This photograph depicts the September 10, 1892 cornerstone laying ceremony upon the completion of the second floor of the Cumberland A.M.E. Church, corner of Frederick and Decatur Streets.
The following narrative was produced as part of a history project partnership among the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, the Department of Community Development of the City of Cumberland, Maryland, and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers:
Cumberland's African Methodist Episcopal Church stands today as one of Maryland's earliest examples of a free black church. In 19th century pre-Civil War America, prominent free blacks like Frederick Douglass and white abolitionists began calling for the end of slavery and the integration of African Americans into general society.
Simultaneously, many other free blacks (over 500,000) were creating their own institutions as a social defense against a largely hostile white population. Free blacks throughout the northern states formed supportive associations for aiding the poorest members of society, for self-improvement, and for socializing. The major free black community organization was the "black Baptist" or African Methodist Episcopal Church. The AME church in the North served as a place of worship, a social and cultural center, a political meeting place, a hiding place for fugitives, a training ground for potential community leaders, and one of the few places where free blacks could express their true feelings.
Free blacks in Cumberland were no different than their counterparts in other large and growing Northern cities, and in 1847, after worshiping for years from the balcony of Cumberland's Methodist Episcopal Centre Street Church, a group of free blacks decided to leave the predominantly white congregation and organize their own church.
The new congregation held services in its new building just a year later. Rebuilt to fit the growing congregation in 1871 and 1875, the Cumberland AME Church constructed their present building in 1891 in the "Methodist tradition" with the sanctuary on the second floor, and the Sunday school class rooms situated on the ground floor. A relatively substantial and decorated building, the Cumberland AME church reflects the growth and success of Cumberland's 19th-century African American community. The Cumberland African Methodist Episcopal Church is located at the corner of Decatur and Frederick Streets.
City of Cumberland
This photograph is part of the Herman and Stacia Miller Collection and has been used courtesy of the Mayor and City Council of Cumberland, Maryland.
In1847 Lot #15 in Magruder's Addition to Cumberland was sold to the trustees of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in particular, Burgis Magruder. In 1863, after Magruder's death, his administrator confirmed the sale to the trustees, described as "free men of color". The deed mentions a "church and lot". Source: City of Cumberland
Allegany County, Maryland
African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.
Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008