Asbury United Methodist Church is the oldest black church in the city remaining on its original site. It was organized as Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church in 1836 by members of the Foundry Methodist Episcopal Church (now Foundry United Methodist Church) who sought to worship free of racism and segregation.

Foundry Methodist Church was organized in 1814 with 38 members: 18 blacks and 20 whites. Blacks were relegated by whites to the gallery section of the church, which quickly became overcrowded. Led by Eli Nugent, the congregants sought temporary accommodations before they settled on a permanent site. One of the first spaces they rented was the old Henry Smothers School House for Negroes at 14th and H streets, NW. Once this space became overcrowded, church members, free and enslaved, selected this site and built a frame church. A brick building followed in 1866, parts of which are retained within the current church, which was completed in the Gothic Revival style in 1916.

Asbury was and continues to be a major religious and social center in the city. The church hosted independent private schools during the Civil War, and it has also been a leader in the housing arena. In 1947 Asbury purchased the Roydon Apartments at 1619 R Street to operate as perhaps the city's first purposefully interracial apartment building. In 1982 the church converted the old Shaw Junior High School into Asbury Dwellings, a senior citizen housing facility.

The church is well known for its community activism, participation in national civil rights protests, and missionary work. In 1983 it built the Asbury Chapel and School in Sierra Leone.

Members and attendees include educator-activists Mary McLeod Bethune and Mary Church Terrell. The church, which has a history center, was added to the DC Inventory of Historic Sites in 1984 and to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.


This template controls the elements:

TOP: Top Links (Home, Donate, Events, Contact), Social Network Buttons, Tagline, Tagline Image

FOOTER: Footer Links (Privacy Policy, Contact, Donate), Footer Descriptions

* This message is only visible in administrative mode