Lost Church Uncovered

The foundation of the First Baptist Church was discovered where the church stood near the intersection of Nassau and Francis Streets in Williamsburg. (Photo courtesy BY Jonathon Gruenke of The Daily Press)

Last fall, archaeologists uncovered the foundations of First Baptist Church, built in 1856—one of the first congregations founded by free and enslaved African Americans—within Colonial Williamsburg’s historic area. Archaeologist Jack Gary of Colonial Williamsburg said the excavation also uncovered the foundations of a smaller building at the site and a posthole that could date to the late 18th Century. It is not clear yet if the earlier foundation could be from the congregation’s first meeting house, built in 1818.

The findings will enable the living history site to expand its Black interpretive programming. President and CEO Cliff Fleet noted, “First Baptist Church’s story is significant not only to our community but to the history of the nation. Colonial Williamsburg was established to uncover and share that history, and we are committed to sharing the full story. So this partnership and project are important, not just locally but to entire country, especially now.”

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