First Baptist Church, Roanoke

Historical Significance

Roanoke's First Baptist Church was built in 1898-1890 to house what was at the time the largest and most prominent black congregation in Virginia west of Richmond. The congregation was founded in 1855 when Charles L. Cocke, president of Hollins Institute (now Hollins College), formed a Bible class for enslaved individuals living in Roanoke, then known as Big Lick. The class grew and became his congregation. The arrival of the Norfolk and Western Railroad in 1882 brought more parishioners to the church, which expanded its programming in 1919-1958 to vacation Bible school, and published "Church News", the only black newspaper in southwest Virginia at the time.

The original building was destroyed by fire in April, 1995 and was de-listed from the National Register of Historic Places.

 A new church building at Wells and Jefferson Streets was dedicated on June 20, 1982.

Physical Description

The 1890 church was designed by local white architect H.H. Huggins in a Victorian Gothic style.

Geographical and Contact Information

407 North Jefferson Street, NW
Roanoke, Virginia
24016
Phone: 540-982-1241

Cite this Page:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “First Baptist Church, Roanoke,” African American Historic Sites Database, accessed May 24, 2017, http://aahistoricsitesva.org/items/show/142.

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