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Brown Memorial A.M.E. Church - Westernport

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Brown Memorial A.M.E. Church - Westernport

In the late 1840's an African-American congregation was established in Westernport, Maryland in the southwestern portion of Allegany County on the Potomac River. Known as the Brown Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1854 the group purchased a vacated Methodist church building on Front Street to serve the congregation. The Westernport Heritage Society indicates that the location was 109 Front Street. The site, which was a private residence at the time of the above 1997 photograph, was soon razed after this photograph along with numerous other homes on Front Street (also depicted) which were damaged in the 1996 flood. The area was later developed into Creekside Park which is also depicted.

A 1997 National Register Evaluation notes that the existing 109 Front Street was possibly constructed sometime between the years 1900-1920. The building had undergone significant alterations over the years pertaining to the facade, porch and cladding. The 1916 centennial encyclopedia history of the A.M.E. church credits the Reverend George Claudius Taylor, born in 1862 and described elsewhere on this website, as having made renovations to the building.

A newspaper article appearing in the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper of August 21, 1924 referring to the Brown Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.) Church in Westernport notes that the congregation was preparing to paint their church in early September. The church pastor at the time, Reverend M.B. Simpson, apparently served the A.M.E. churches in Oakland, Westernport and Frostburg, all three being members of the Baltimore District Conference of A.M.E. Churches. Local history books also note that in 1885 there existed in Westernport a school for black children. The students numbered 19 in 1885, 20 in 1889 and 25 in 1895. These students met in the African Methodist Episcopal Church until the construction of a school in 1896.

Local history books also note that in 1888 the congregation purchased a parcel of land across the Potomac River on Water Street in Piedmont, West Virginia. As the Brown Memorial Church remained in existence into the Twentieth Century, possibly up until the 1930's, we can only speculate that a portion of the congregation remained with the A.M.E. in Westernport. The building was eventually purchased at some point and served as a private residence under several owners up until the time of its razing.


Historical information from Reflections: Remembering a Beloved Hometown - Celebrating the Sesquicentennial of the Town of Westernport, 1858-2008,Patrick E McCarty; Shirley A McCarty, Westernport, Md. : Westernport Heritage Society, 2008.
Allegany County - A History, by Harry Stegmaier, David Dean, Gordon Kershaw and Jon Wiseman, 1976.
Centennial Encyclopedia of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1816-1916, by Richard Wright, 1916.
Additional information provided by Gene C. Miller along with his blog at Cheesy Grits and Shoefly Pie, as well as Jack Fazenbaker and Patrick McCarty of the Westernport Heritage Society
Photographs of 109 Front Street and Front Street streetscape by Marvin Brown of URS Greiner Consultants, January 14, 1997 for the Maryland State Highway Administration. Photograph of Creekside Park by Albert L. Feldstein, 2015

Collection Location:
Allegany County, Maryland

African Americans, History; Allegany County (Md.), History.

Allegany County (Md.), 1890-2008

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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