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Second Baptist Church is one of the oldest African American congregations in Washington, organized in 1848 by former members of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church. The new church was led by H.H. Butler. At first members met for worship in a broom factory on B Street, SW, between Sixth and Seventh streets and subsequently over Ryan's Grocery Store at Ninth and D streets, NW.

The church, under the leadership of Reverend Sandy Alexander, purchased this site in 1856 for its first permanent building. According to oral tradition within the church, that building was a stop on the Underground Railroad. The church ran a school for children after the Civil War and later established a Sunday School Lyceum, which attracted speakers of national prominence such as Frederick Douglass and Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr.

The current Gothic Revival church was built in 1894 and designed by white architect Appleton P. Clarke, Jr. It was placed on the DC Inventory of Historic Sites in 2002.

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