First African Baptist Church

First African Baptist Church

The First African Baptist Church was founded c.1790 to serve the religious needs of African Americans in the Lexington area. TThe first pastor of the church was Peter Durrett, known affectionately by his congregation as Old Captain. Old Captain immigrated to Kentucky with his master around 1785 and soon began leading the early church where he preached the Gospel. Old Captain died in 1854 and his funeral is reputed to have been the second largest ever held in Lexington, second only to Henry Clay's. The site where the present First African Baptist Church stands was originally the site of the Old Methodist Meeting House. The property was sold to the First African Baptist Church in 1833 under the leadership of the Reverend London Ferrill. Ferrill was a freed slave who came to Kentucky with his wife in 1812 and was allowed to stay here by an act of the Kentucky legislature. The present Italianate style church was constructed in 1856. The large, arched windows are a testament to this style of architecture. In the years following its construction a large stone portico was added and a two-story parish house was constructed adjacent to the church. The congregation of the First African Baptist Church has since moved to another location and the building is no longer used for church services. The church is not only significant for its religious history, but also for the prominent role it played in the lives of Lexington's early African Americans.