Photo, Print, Drawing Curtis Freewill Baptist Church, Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, WV
About this Item
- Curtis Freewill Baptist Church, Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, WV
- Historic American Buildings Survey, creator
- Freewill Baptist Church
- Storer College
- Curtis, Silas
Created / Published
- Documentation compiled after 1933
- - Baptist churches
- - 1 story
- - raised basements
- - brickwork
- - lunettes
- - round-topped windows
- - diamond-shaped windows
- - stained glass
- - towers
- - battlements
- - roofing slate
- - brick chimneys
- - gable roofs
- - stucco
- - religions
- - West Virginia--Jefferson County--Harpers Ferry
- - Significance: The Curtis Freewill Baptist Church served as both a religious building for students of Storer College and as its own congregational church for African American residents of Harpers Ferry and nearby Bolivar. Constructed between 1889 and 1896, the brick church was named for Silas Curtis, a prominent member of the Freewill Baptist denomination in New England whose family donated money in his memory to complete of the building. Upon its dedication, the church replaced the chapel in Anthony Hall as the school’s primary religious meeting place. Located across Fillmore Street from the main entrance to Storer College, the church had a troubled history in finding money, congregants, and pastorship. At the time of Storer College’s closing in 1955, the church effectively had no congregation and was only being used for school-related activities. Though originally envisioned by members of the Freewill denomination to be a self-sufficient church for local African Americans, it largely failed to accomplish that goal and functioned in that manner for fewer than sixty years. Presently owned by the National Park Service (NPS), the building is remarkably intact and still conveys its historic past as a religious edifice. To this end, Curtis Freewill Baptist Church is able to project the roles that Baptist theology played in the education and religious practices of African American students. It also speaks to the paternalistic structure of Christian missionary work. With its historic roots in rural New England, the Freewill church spread its influence across the country by opening schools for minority students, many of which were controlled by trustee boards comprised mainly of white New Englanders who rarely visited the institutions under their charge. Absent from the day to day activities of their schools and churches, yet still holding financial purse strings, the Freewill Baptist denomination likely alienated many African Americans, students and non-students alike.
- - Survey number: HABS WV-278
- - Building/structure dates: 1889-1896 Initial Construction
- Photo(s): 8
- Color Transparencies: 2
- Data Page(s): 28
- Photo Caption Page(s): 2
Call Number/Physical Location
- HABS WVA,19-HARF,35-
- Historic American Buildings Survey (Library of Congress)
- Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print
- No known restrictions on images made by the U.S. Government; images copied from other sources may be restricted. https://www.loc.gov/rr/print/res/114_habs.html
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- Call Number: HABS WVA,19-HARF,35-
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Cite This Item
Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.
Chicago citation style:
Historic American Buildings Survey, Creator, Freewill Baptist Church, Storer College, and Silas Curtis. Curtis Freewill Baptist Church, Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, WV. Jefferson County Harpers Ferry West Virginia, 1933. Documentation Compiled After. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/wv0373/.
APA citation style:
Historic American Buildings Survey, C., Freewill Baptist Church, Storer College & Curtis, S. (1933) Curtis Freewill Baptist Church, Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, WV. Jefferson County Harpers Ferry West Virginia, 1933. Documentation Compiled After. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/wv0373/.
MLA citation style:
Historic American Buildings Survey, Creator, et al. Curtis Freewill Baptist Church, Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, WV. Documentation Compiled After. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/wv0373/>.