Anthony Bowen (ca.1805-1872), born enslaved in nearby Prince George's County, Maryland, moved to Washington in 1826 and became legally free within four years.
In Washington he worked as a clerk at the U.S. Patent Office and served as a religious leader. He helped to found the St. Paul AME Church in 1856 and established a Sunday Evening School for children and adults. Both met in his home in the 900 block of E Street, SW (now the site of the Southeast-Southwest Freeway, near the 10th Street Promenade).
As one of the city's active abolitionists, Bowen met freedom-seekers at the Sixth Street wharf and sheltered them at his home, an important stop along the Underground Railroad. Bowen co-founded the nation's first black YMCA in 1853, and today a YMCA bearing his name is located at 1325 W Street, NW. During the Civil War, Bowen met with President Lincoln to urge him to recruit African American soldiers.
Nelson Rimensnyder, “Anthony Bowen and Southwest Washington,” unpub. ms., DC Public Library.
“Twelfth Street Young Men's Christian Association Building,” National Register of Historic Places Registration Form.
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