Downtown in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Asbury United Methodist Church
Civil War to Civil Rights
—Downtown Heritage Trail —
Stories of slavery and freedom, of struggle and achievement are woven through the history of this African American congregation. Founded in 1836, by the time of the Civil War Asbury United Methodist Church was the preeminent Black church in the city, its membership of 600 making it the largest of 11 African American congregations in Washington. Today, Asbury counts among its members descendants of District slaves who tried a dramatic escape to freedom in 1848 aboard the ship Pearl.
Churches were centers of life for African Americans, who had represented more than one-quarter of the population of the nation's capital since 1800. By 1830, a majority had gained their freedom. Despite "Black Codes" that severely restricted their movements and activities, free African Americans practiced a variety of trades, ran their own businesses and set up schools. By 1860, free Blacks owned property in every quadrant of the city.
Asbury United Methodist is the oldest Black congregation in the District of Columbia on its original site. The current sanctuary dates from 1915. Since its founding, Asbury members have played leading roles in the life of the city, and its spiritual, educational, and humanitarian activities have symbolized the efforts of Black congregations throughout Washington, D.C., to attain equality for
"...watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen... Teach them to your children and to their children and to their children after them." (Deuteronomy 4:9)
Asbury United Methodist Church as it looked when members Mary Jane and Emily Catherine Edmonson tried to flee slavery on the ship Pearl in 1848.
Notable African American photographer Addison Scurlock captured the Asbury congregation on its front steps in 1931.
Erected by Tourism DC. (Marker Number W.3.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Civil War to Civil Rights marker series.
Location. 38° 54.152′ N, 77° 1.636′ W. Marker is in Downtown, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of K Street, NW (U.S. 29) and 11th Street, NW, on the right when traveling east on K Street, NW. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 926 11th St NW, ., Washington DC 20001, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Messer Building (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Alexander Graham Bell (about 600 feet away); Franklin Square - "Going into the country" Morrison-Clark Inn (about 600 feet away); The Leonard "Bud" Doggett House (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Church of the Ascension and St. Agnes (approx. 0.2 miles away); For the Working People (approx. 0.2 miles away); Central Public Library (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Downtown.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
Also see . . . The Pearl Incident. (Submitted on August 31, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
Additional keywords. Constructed 1915-16; Clarence Lowell Handing, architect; National Register of Historic Places, 1986.
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Churches & Religion • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 31, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 2,266 times since then and 54 times this year. Last updated on November 20, 2013, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 31, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.