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Mount Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church

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Mount Vernon AME Church
1848, George Pipkin, Albert Howard, and Peter West. 2599 Fountain Run Rd.
  • Sleeper logs under puncheon floor

Situated only five miles north of the Tennessee state line, Mount Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church, originally known as Freetown Church, was built in 1848 by recently freed slaves George Pipkin, Albert Howard, and Peter West. White farmer William Howard traditionally freed his slaves when they turned twenty-one, and some of them chose to stay close to family, forming the community of Freetown, Kentucky, on 400 acres that Howard gave them. Seventeen free blacks are known to have lived in Freetown in 1860, among 922 slaves living in Monroe County at the same time. Albert Martin donated the land for the log cabin church; Peter West served as its first preacher.

Built on a slight rise, the 24 x 27–foot church building is a one-story, one-room log structure. The rough-hewn notched logs are set with pegs at the corners, with chinking filling the gaps between the logs. The wooden puncheon floor is set off the ground by sleeper logs. At an unknown date, the long sides and gables were covered by battens and a tin metal roof was laid over the original shake shingle roof. The church is entered through a double door on the south gable end, opposite a small square shuttered opening in the center of the north gable end. Churchgoers were warmed in cooler months by an interior brick fireplace on the center of the west side. The nearby graveyard contains several rock markers as well as marked stones.

The church was used as the Gamaliel Colored Elementary School until Kentucky schools were integrated in 1963. It still contains wooden pews used by students. While not used for regular services and not regularly open to visitors, it is the site of an annual church picnic.

References

Curtis, Nancy C. Black Heritage Sties: The South. New York: New Press, 1998.

Savage, Beth L., and Carol D. Shull. African American Historic Places. Washington, D.C.: Preservation Press, 1994.

Oppel, Mary Cronan, “Mount Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church,” Monroe County, Kentucky. National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, 1977. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, DC.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Cristina Carbone
Coordinator: 
Cristina Carbone
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Data

Timeline

  • 1848

    Construction
  • 1963

    Ceases functioning as the Gamaliel Colored School when Kentucky schools are integrated in 1963

Citation

Cristina Carbone, "Mount Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church", [Gamaliel, Kentucky], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/KY-01-171-0058.

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