Oakland Baptist Church and Cemetery

Historical Significance

Oakland Baptist Church, still an active congregation, was founded in 1891 by African-Americans living in the Fort, a village formed on the site of the dismantled Civil War-era Fort Ward. The church was an outgrowth of the Oak Hill Baptist Mission, started in 1888 at Oak Hill plantation, part of the 22,000-acre tract developed in the 18th century by the Fitzhugh family.

Initially, the congregation met in a small school house. In 1893 they relocated to a site purchased by the Falls Church School Board from Robert and Clara Adams, founding members of the church. The relocation closer to the Fort community may have been prompted in part by the sale of Oak Hill by the Fitzhugh family in 1889. The existing church building was constructed in 1931 after a fire that also destroyed the church’s records.

Founding members of the congregation included Clara Adams, William Carpenter, J.W. Casey, Maggie Hall, Brooks Johnson, William Terrell, Nancy Shepherd, Harriett Shrots, Daniel Simms, Sr. and Smith Wanzer.

The Church sits on a triangle of land formed by the intersection of three historic Virginia crossroads: Braddock Road, formerly Old Leesburg Road; Route 7, formerly the Leesburg Turnpike; and Quaker Lane. It was to guard these crucial points of access to the federal capital that Fort Ward was built in 1861.

The cemetery, located on the eastern edge of Fort Ward Park, was founded around 1897 on property donated by the Adams family. The five-sided cemetery is the only known African-American cemetery in Fairfax County outside of downtown Alexandria and its first suburb, West End. The cemetery is surrounded by Fort Ward Park. Five additional gravestones can be seen outside the fence, but their relationship to the cemetery is unknown. 

Physical Description

The Church sits on a triangle at the Bradlee intersection, the major historic crossroads of Braddock Road and Leesburg Turnpike. The brick structure was built in the early 20th century and renovated in the 1990’s.

Geographical and Contact Information

3408 King Street
Alexandria, Virginia
22302
Phone: 703-998-9006

Cite this Page:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “Oakland Baptist Church and Cemetery,” African American Historic Sites Database, accessed August 22, 2017, http://aahistoricsitesva.org/items/show/315.

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