text: seven walking tours through historic philadelphia

Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church

Washington Square 22

On the corner of 6th and Addison stands Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, founded in 1787 at this location by Bishop Richard Allen. The church occupies the oldest piece of ground in America continuously owned by African Americans. It was here that black Masonry was started in Pennsylvania. Bishop Allen and other blacks had held services at Old St. George's at five o'clock in the morning, but the day came when they were told they could use only the balcony. Allen led his flock out of St. George's and soon afterward purchased the lot at 6th and Addison. The present church, built in the 1890s, is the fourth to stand here. Allen's first church was an abandoned blacksmith's shed hauled by horses to the site. He did have support from Dr. Benjamin Rush, the Signer, who admired Allen's handling of those ill with yellow fever in the epidemic of 1793. The church also houses a museum.

Washington Square and West