“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Gloucester in Gloucester County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Zion Poplars Baptist Church

Zion Poplars Baptist Church Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, July 31, 2010
1. Zion Poplars Baptist Church Marker
Inscription.  The magnificent edifice known as Zion Poplars Baptist Church developed out of a West African-influenced religious practice known as a “brush arbor,” a clandestine religious meeting held in wooded areas or in remote cabins in wooded areas. Before 1865, and for some time afterwards, Blacks were prohibited, by law, from gathering in large numbers in order to give, or receive, educational or religious instruction. The brush arbor provided them with a safe haven for worshiping God. Zion Poplars developed out of this tradition when, in 1866, its founding mothers and fathers chose seven poplar trees as their sanctuary. Four of these trees are still extant on church grounds.

Built in 1894, the church stands as an excellent example of the mid-19th-century Gothic revival style, with vernacular detailing. The spectacular interior of the church exhibits the creative craftsmanship of Mr. Frank Braxton, a former slave. Braxton, early congregants, their descendants, and war veterans are interred in the old and new cemeteries.

Like most independent Black churches, Zion Poplars was a multifunctional institution, serving the spiritual,
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educational, and economic needs of its congregants and of members of the larger community. Zion Poplars, therefore, provided Blacks with many resources that the larger society refused to grant. That tradition of mutual-aid, that communal and indomitable spirit, survives to this day. For its service to its congregants and to members of the greater community, its architectural style, and its West African influences, Zion Poplars Baptist Church is a historic and cultural treasure.

Natalie S, Robertson, Ph.D.
Hampton University
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansArchitectureChurches & Religion. A significant historical year for this entry is 1865.
Location. 37° 23.967′ N, 76° 30.541′ W. Marker is in Gloucester, Virginia, in Gloucester County. Marker can be reached from T C Walker Road (Virginia Route 629) 0.2 miles east of Enfield Road (Virginia Route 671), on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7000 T C Walker Road, Gloucester VA 23061, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Zion Poplars Baptist Church (within shouting distance of this marker); The Edge Hill House (approx. one mile away); a different marker also named The Edge Hill House (approx. 1.1 miles away);
Zion Poplars Baptist Church image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bernard Fisher, July 31, 2010
2. Zion Poplars Baptist Church
To Gwynn's Island (approx. 1.1 miles away); Ware Church (approx. 1.1 miles away); Gloucester Downtown Historic District (approx. 1.1 miles away); History of the Edge Hill Intersection (approx. 1.1 miles away); Texaco Gas Pumps, c. 1930s (approx. 1.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Gloucester.
Also see . . .  Zion Poplars Baptist Church. National Register of Historic Places (Submitted on August 4, 2010.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 5, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 4, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. This page has been viewed 828 times since then and 45 times this year. Last updated on August 4, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 4, 2010, by Bernard Fisher of Richmond, Virginia. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.

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Oct. 4, 2023