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“Part of the Afro-American experience.”

First African Baptist Church
Ranked #9 of 220 things to do in Savannah
Certificate of Excellence
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.
Reviewed January 12, 2013

Please note the name "First African Baptist Church" was/is the first African church. Makes quite an impression if you think of the great leap of worshiping invisibly to having a house of worship to call your own. Smallish "Museum" downstairs. Hiding places for runaway slaves. Attend a service on Sunday if you can. Hard wooden benches. Women with funeral parlor hand fans. Call and response singing and hell fire sermons to be expected. I am white and touched by visiting this building. I would consider it a must see for people of color who live or visit Savannah.

2  Thank andrewinsavannah
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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663 - 667 of 806 reviews

Reviewed January 10, 2013

The tour and tour guide were awesome!! The tour was informative and thought provoking. If you want to learn about the history of African Americans in Savannah you should stop by.

Thank KessaB34
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 1, 2013

I was really looking forward to this tour because I had read such great reviews on Tripadvisor.

This church is clearly a special place and an outstanding example of human determination, so overall I'm still glad I spent the time experiencing this place. It was also evident this is very much a working church with an active, engaged congregation, who proudly and enthusiasticly wishes to share their history with others, so I can fault none of this.

However, based on my own reading and knowledge, I noticed several of the facts by our tour guide were not correct, which really concerns me. Also, the tour presentation was not as polished as it could be, considering this is a paid tour. I know many other past reviewers were impressed by their guide, so as I mentioned in the title, presentation quality could be sporadic. Or it could be since we went in December, and not during the tourist heavy season we did not get the most qualified guide, so I suggest you consider those facts when putting together your itineary to visit the church. Also, I hope the church is more rigorous with quality assurance before turning loose their tour guides because I think this does have the potential of being an important hidden gem to complete the tapestry of a visitor's understanding of Savannah.

1  Thank Arlington7175
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 26, 2012

The church guide Karen made us understand that the church congregation began during the times of slavery and has an amazing history punctuated with strong personalities and leaders who kept the congregation together even to this day. It has survived against many forms of oppression and opposition.

The building itself has an interesting history but the stories of the members over the years were moving and enlightening. We encouraged Karen to find a way to get her story told to a broader audience - You Tube if nothing else. She was absolutely great!

We encourage you to go on the tour and learn about this historical congregation - it is a moving story worth hearing.

2  Thank Paul B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 23, 2012

I had wanted to visit this church for several years, and finally on Saturday (Dec. 22) had a chance to do so along with my two sons, ages 12 and 15. We had seen someone post on Travel Advisor that there were tours at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and were at the church at 11 a.m. A young man who is a member of the church, Johnny, warmly welcomed us and gave us a tour. It felt like our own private tour since it was only the three of us, and he was fabulous. He gave wonderful historical information and allowed us to take our time in the sanctuary, which is absolutely beautiful. Then he took us downstairs to see the floorboards where holes were drilled in African Congo-like patterns to allow air to circulate for the slaves who were hiding underneath as part of the underground railroad. Johnny gave us what information is known about those slaves and the tunnel which is not high and required a lot of crawling. It was powerful. We also had a chance to look in their room of historical documents and that was incredibly interesting. There was a small fee (cash) and I think it was $7 for adults and $6 for students (although I'm not positive of that amount) and it was well worth it. We spent almost an hour in the church. I loved taking my boys to Savannah's sites throughout the two days we were in town. We took several fun tours and saw the big holiday light show across the River and saw lots of great things, but on the way home my oldest told me the First African Baptist Church was his favorite activity of the trip. High praise from a young teenager, and I would have to agree, it was my favorite as well.

2  Thank clgator
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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