Antioch Missionary Baptist Church

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Antioch Missionary Baptist Church
The church's exterior
Location500 Clay St. Houston, TX
Arealess than one acre
ArchitectRichard Allen
NRHP reference No.76002038[1]
RTHL No.10597
Significant dates
Added to NRHPDecember 22, 1976
Designated RTHL1994

Antioch Missionary Baptist Church is a historic Baptist church at 500 Clay St in Downtown Houston, Texas. It was historically a part of the Fourth Ward.[2] As of 2012 it was the only remaining piece of the original Fourth Ward east of Interstate 45.[3]

Former slaves organized Houston's first African-American Baptist congregation in January 1866. They initially held services outdoors in the "Brush Arbor" along Buffalo Bayou.[4][5] The congregation built its first sanctuary in 1867 at the corner of Bagby and Rusk.[6]: 2 

It was built in 1875 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

Jack Yates once served as the pastor of this church.[7]

Antioch Baptist Church's location in a long-established African-American neighborhood faced the encroachment of the growing downtown business district by the 1950s. Some of the buildings going up nearby after mid-century include the Allen Center complex and the Hyatt Regency hotel. The church property is a mere two blocks from the freeway and from Sam Houston Park.[6]: 2 

As of 2003 the church has a "Jesus Saves" sign. Rod Davis of the San Antonio Express-News said that the presence of the sign, which "still makes a footnote to the downtown skyscrapers," was "evidence that the oldest African American Baptist church (1875) in the city thrives as well as it did when the Rev. Jack Yates, a former slave, served as its first pastor."[2]

According to the church, the original pews, made by hand, are still used.[8]

In 2019 it became a UNESCO Slave Route Project site.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  2. ^ a b Davis, Rod. "Houston's really good idea Bus tour celebrates communities that forged a city." San Antonio Express-News. Sunday August 3, 2003. Travel 1M. Retrieved on February 11, 2012.
  3. ^ Lomax, John Nova (July 3, 2012). "Lenwood Johnson: Trying to Save a Last Shred of Freedmen's Town History". Houston Press. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  4. ^ Meeks, Tomiko (Spring 2011). "Freedmen's Town, Texas: A Lesson in the Failure of Historic Preservation" (PDF). Houston History. 8 (2): 42–44. Retrieved February 7, 2020.
  5. ^ Snyder, Mike. "With its rich history, Fourth Ward is strong in symbolism." Houston Chronicle. Sunday January 9, 2000. A24. Retrieved on July 28, 2012.[dead link]
  6. ^ a b "Texas SP Antioch Missionary Baptist Church". National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program. National Archives Catalog. Retrieved February 7, 2020. Slow download times.
  7. ^ "YATES, JOHN HENRY." Handbook of Texas Online.
  8. ^ Connelly, Richard. "The Eight Most Beautiful Churches in Houston." Houston Press. Wednesday November 9, 2011. 1. Retrieved on November 12, 2011.
  9. ^ Rice, Jen (May 9, 2019). "7 Houston Landmarks Earn United Nations Historical Designation". Houston Public Media. Retrieved May 11, 2019.

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