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First African Baptist Church

23 Montgomery Street, Savannah, GA 31401 (Downtown)
+1 912-233-6597
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94%
Ranked #8 of 100 Attractions in Savannah
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Type: Religious Sites, Cultural
Activities: Group tours/walking tour
More attraction details
Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: First African Baptist Church was organized in 1773 under the leadership of Reverend George Leile and established and constituted in December of 1777 as a body organized believers. Under the leadership of the 3rd Pastor Reverend Andrew C. Marshall, the congregation obtained the property where the present sanctuary stands. Marshall also organized the first black Sunday school in North America and changed the name of the church from “First Colored Baptist” to “First African Baptist”. The sanctuary was completed in 1859 under the direction of the 4th Pastor Reverend William J. Campbell. The ceiling of the church is in the design of a “Nine Patch Quilt” which represented that the church was a safe house for slaves. Beneath the lower auditorium floor is another finished sub floor which is known as the “Underground Railroad”. There is 4ft of height between both floors. The holes in the floor are in the shape of an African prayer symbol known as a Congolese Cosmogram that served a purpose of ventilation. First African Baptist Church has been a place of leadership and service since its inception. Reverend Emmanuel King Love, 6th Pastor, led the movement to establish Savannah State University, formerly known as Georgia State Industrial College for Colored Youth. Rev. Love also played a big role in the establishment of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and Paine College in Augusta, GA. During the time of segregation the church served as the largest gathering place for blacks and whites to meet. Visitors from all walks of life have visited out sanctuary and left inspired. TOUR RATES: Adults = $7.00; Seniors = $6.00; Students = $6.00; Children Ages 5 & Under = FREE. TOUR HOURS OF OPERATION: Tuesday - Saturday = 11:00 a.m. & 2:00p.m. Sunday = 1:00p.m.

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Date | Rating
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English first
San Marcos, CA
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
10 attraction reviews
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 27, 2014 NEW

Don't miss the free narrated tours. The docents give you a great experience as they tell the story and transport you to another time. I am very glad that I made this tour a part of my Savannah visit.

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Canton, CT
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
4 attraction reviews
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2014

The tour of the church was great! The guide knew everything about the church and it's amazing history as part of the underground railroad. I highly recommend visiting.

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Long Island, NY
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
5 attraction reviews
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 14, 2014

Wonderful guide and tour of a beautiful building full of Black history. We were very moved by the story of the building of this church--by slaves on their own time. The patterns of holes in the floor are silent reminders of the courage of those who stopped here on the Underground Railroad. The still-untranslated markings by the slaves on the... More

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Oshawa, Canada
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
4 attraction reviews
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 7, 2014

An amazing piece of history. A great symbol to the strength and dignity of all who were involved at the beginning of the church.

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Upstate SC
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
7 attraction reviews
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2014

We were glad we made time to take a tour of this historic church. We learned about its founders and the many challenges the church has faced since its founding in 1777. The present building, constructed by slaves, has been in use since 1859. This is a recommended site for anyone who is interested in history.

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Sunny Florida
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
29 attraction reviews
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 4, 2014

There was a lot to learn on this tour including the important historic contributions of this church and its founders. Our guide was very knowledgeable and truly conveyed her passion for this important piece of history.

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Virginia, USA
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
25 attraction reviews
39 helpful votes 39 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2014

The history of this church is amazing. We had a very knowledgeable tour guide and she made the place come alive for us but two centuries ago. The air holes for the slaves hiding under the floor board on their way to north is still on the floor boards. The original church pews are still there. They also have a... More

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Ellicott City, MD
Top Contributor
109 reviews 109 reviews
23 attraction reviews
64 helpful votes 64 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 31, 2014

I will always remember visiting this very historic church in Savannah, as it left a large impression on me. Our guide, Lydia, was quite good and answered any and all questions that we had. There are only 2 tours a day (Monday thru Friday, I believe) at 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Also, you are free to attend their church... More

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Lincoln City, Oregon
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
5 attraction reviews
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 30, 2014

If you are interested in American history at all then The First African Baptist Church should be on your list of places to visit. There is a somber feeling there. Still standing and still having services.

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Charlotte, North Carolina
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
3 attraction reviews
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 26, 2014

Guides must be reserved - but excellent! Lots of history about the underground railroad, construction of the church, church in use today, some of the original pews still in use and the original stained glass. Very interesting!

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