Second Baptist Church serves Detroit's oldest African American Baptist congregation. It was organized in 1836 by thirteen former slaves who had been members of First Baptist Church. Its members met in various halls and schools until 1857, when the group purchased the Zion Reformed (Evangelical) Church. Here on January 1, 1863, Detroit blacks held the first public celebration of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. An addition in 1880 converted the one-story, gable-roofed limestone church into a two-story building with an auditorium. After a fire partially destroyed the church in 1917, a new structure was built around the shell of the 1880 building. In 1968 a large, four-story office and educational wing with projecting flat roof, asymmetrical composition, and cantilevering was built east of the church to the plans of Howard F. Sims and Harold F. Varner, leaders in what was then Detroit's major African American architectural firm, Sims-Varner and Associates.
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Second Baptist Church
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