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African American History

AfricanAmericanHistory

African-American HistoryAfrican Americans have played a significant role in the history of Prince George’s County, as illustrated in numerous historic sites, schools, and settlements; St. Paul’s (Free Hope Baptist) Church, Blacksox Park, Abraham Hall, St. Mary’s Beneficial Society Hall, Mt. Nebo Church, the Charles Duckett Log Cabin, Dorsey Chapel, and the Northampton Slave Quarter Site and Archaeological Park.

Free black families living in the County prior to the Civil War were not able to acquire titles to land until the 1870s or later.

Discover the richness and diversity that Prince George’s County has to offer. For over 300 years, African Americans have raised families and built communities that have been vital to the growth and development of Prince George’s County and its history. They have established neighborhoods and built physical structures, many of which survive in the midst of the County’s ever changing landscape.

The African-American Heritage Sites Guide invites you to take a visual journey to those African American historic sites and buildings — whether through offered guided tours (specific locations) or self-guided tours. Through its history depictions and imagery, the AAHS guide describes the origins, functions and architectural style of each site, and is the perfect keepsake for you to use and share.

Download a PDF of this Guide

Special activities, programs, and events are held at our Historic sites throughout the year. 


Photos are courtesy of their respective websites.


Abraham HallAbraham Hall
7612 Old Muirkirk Road
Beltsville, MD 20705
240-264-3415
Additional Resource
Constructed in 1889, Abraham Hall is located in the historic African-American community of Rossville. The first African-American historic site in Prince George’s to be fully restored utilizing public funds, Abraham Hall served as a meeting hall, house of worship, school, and social hall. It was constructed by the Benevolent Sons & Daughters of Abraham. Renovated and re-dedicated in 2009, the building houses the Black History Program of the Maryland-National Capital & Planning Commission, Prince George’s County Parks & Recreation.


African American Museum and Cultural Center (PGAAMCC)African American Museum
4519 Rhode Island Ave
Brentwood MD 20722
301-809-0440 (Gallery and Administrative Office)
Additional Resource
The Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center at North Brentwood, Inc. (PGAAMCC) aspires to become recognized nationally and internationally for its innovative approach to the documentation, interpretation, preservation and presentation of local and regional African American history and culture. The museum will be constructed on a 2.5-acre site in North Brentwood, Maryland, the first municipality in Prince George’s County incorporated by African American citizens. During the development phase, the Gallery will display exhibitions and will be used in conjunction with office space for Education and Public Programs, community events, small privtate functions, meetings, ect. The Galley will re-open in February 2014 at 4519 Rhode Island Avenue.

The idea of a Prince George’s County-based African American cultural institution was developed in the late 1990s by the North Brentwood Historical Society, the Friends of North Brentwood, and the determined leadership of former Mayor Lillian K. Beverly. Our presence in Gallery 110 at the Gateway Arts Center is the result of support from elected and appointed officials, as well as the dedication of passionate board members. Our goal in this space is to create an intimate encounter with African American culture that will inform and shape our planning of the permanent structure a few blocks away.


Belair MansionBelair Mansion
12207 Tulip Grove Drive
Bowie MD 20715
301-809-3089
Additional Resource
Built in 1745 for Provincial Governor Samuel Ogle, Belair, like most Chesapeake plantations, depended on the labor of enslaved Africans. A permanent exhibit, “Put to Work in Making Tobacco”, interprets the contrasting lives of the gentry and the slave population who called Belair home. An exhibit at the Belair Stables honors the significant role of African-American jockeys in the 1800s and 1900s.


Blacksox Park
2200 Mitchellville Road
Bowie MD 20716
Additional Resource
This 70-acre park was once home to two local African-American sandlot baseball teams, the Mitchellville Tigers and the Washington Blacksox. From the 1930s to the 1970s, African-American sandlot teams, including the Brentwood Flashes, Laurel All-Stars, Oxon Hill Aztecs, and the Glenarden Braves played here. The Homestead Grays, a professional Negro League team, played the Washington Blacksox at the field.


BostwickBostwick
3901 48th Street
Bladensburg MD 20710
Additional Resource
Bostwick is one of only four pre-Revolutionary War structures still standing in Bladensburg, Maryland. Built in 1746 Bostwick is a 2-1/2-story, Georgian brick house, with a flared gable roof and bracketed cornice, a high buttress at the south gable end, and a kitchen wing to the north. It was built for Christopher Lowndes who was a leading citizen and local merchant in Bladensburg. His trading company imported spices, building materials, dry goods, and slaves. He also owned a shipyard where ocean-going vessels were constructed as well as a ropewalk that manufactured the cordage necessary for shipping lines. It was later the home of Lowndes’ son-in-law, Benjamin Stoddert, first Secretary of the Navy. Bostwick stands high on a terraced lawn, and is a prominent landmark in the town.


Cherry Hill Cemetery
6821 Ingraham Street
Riverdale MD 20737
301-627-1286
Additional Resource
Cherry Hill Cemetery, an African-American family burial ground, was established in 1884 on the farm of Josiah Adams. It is the only intact African-American family farm cemetery in the Bladensburg-Riverdale-Hyattsville area. The graves are marked with slabs of local ironstone and plants. African-American families, including the Adams, Becketts and Plummers, buried their loved ones at Cherry Hill through the 1940s.


Columbia Air CenterColumbia Air Center
16000 Croom Airport Road
Upper Marlboro MD 20772
301-627-6074
Additional Resource
The first African-American owned and operated airfield in Maryland, if not the nation, was licensed in 1941. John W. Greene, Jr., a pioneer in black aviation, was instrumental in developing the airfield originally called Riverside Field. Occupied by the U.S. Navy during World War II, the airfield reopened as Columbia Air Center, offering a flying school, charter services and maintenance shop. The first African-American Civil Air Patrol Squadron in the Washington, D.C. area was formed here. The site is located within Patuxent River Park which is owned anad operated by The Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission. This site is currently used for agricultural purposes and none of the buildings or runways that once stood on the site are extant; interpretive signage tells the story of the historic airport and provides a map of the airfield when it was in use.


Dorsey ChapelDorsey Chapel
10704 Brookland Road
Glenn Dale, MD 20769
240-264-3415
Additional Resource
Dorsey Chapel is a small meeting-house-style church which served as the spiritual and social center of the rural African-American community of Brookland at the turn of the 20th century. Construction of the chapel was completed in 1900; it was named after its first minister, the Reverend A.B. Dorsey. A small, active congregation occupied the chapel from 1900 to 1971. In 1971, the congregation merged with the congregation from Perkins Chapel to form Glenn Dale United Methodist Church, and Dorsey Chapel was no longer used. Initially scheduled for demolition in 1980, the Friends of Dorsey Chapel organized efforts to preserve and restore the Church.


The Charles Duckett Log CabinDuckett Log Cabin
16000 Croom Airport Road
Upper Marlboro MD 20772
301-627-6074
Additional Resource
The Duckett Cabin is a rare chestnut log tenant farmhouse from the 1880s. It was likely built by Charles Duckett, a former slave and landsman in the Union Navy during the Civil War. The cabin is part of the Patuxent Rural Life Museums complex, which includes the Duvall Tool Museum, a tobacco museum, a blacksmith shop and an early 20th century Sears, Roebuck & Company simplex house.


“Experience Salubria” Memorial Garden & History Walk Potomac River Heritage Visitor Center
@Tanger Outlets
6800 Oxon Hill Road
National Harbor, MD 20745
Additional Resource
Experience Salubria was created by the local community to highlight the historical significance of Salubria. It offers three components including two permanent bronze plaques describing the historical significance of individuals such as “the prince of Agriculture”, Dr. John Bayne-owner of an early farm that occupied the 40-acre site once known as “Salubria” plantation. The Potomac River Heritage Visitor Center inside Tanger Outlets center features exhibits, archaeological artifacts, projection shows, reading panels, and literature about other important historical & cultural places along the Potomac River waterfront in Prince George’s County. In addition, the Salubria Memorial Garden & History Walk features large reading panels that interpret the lives of actual people who lived at “Salubria” and near the Potomac Shore.


Fairmont Heights School
737 61st Avenue
Fairmont Heights MD 20743
301-925-1360
Additional Resource
1912; 2 story frame schoolhouse of institutional Foursquare form; a pyramidal roof cupola rises from the front plane of the hip roof and the original school bell is preserved inside. Designed by noted black architect William Sidney Pittman of Washington, D. C.; after its construction, it had the only facilities for industrial training of blacks in Prince George’s County; Served as school until 1934; important landmark in Fairmont Heights.


Free Hope Baptist ChurchFreehope Baptist Church
4107 47th Street
Bladensburg MD 20710
301-779-1278
Additional Resource
818, 1908, brick gable-roof church with later bell tower and lower gable-roof addition. Third Presbyterian church building in Bladensburg; sold to black Baptist congregation in 1874; sole surviving historic structure in industrial area.


Gibbons Methodist Episcopal Church Site, Education Building & Cemetery
Gibbons Church Road
Brandywine MD 20613
301-372-6250
1920s, 1 story frame building with gable-end facade; cemetery c. 1900 onward. Founded by a group formerly enslaved African-Americans in 1884 who constructed a frame church building in 1889; it was demolished in 1967; congregations like this helped build a sense of community and self-determination among members in an era when political, social, and economic opportunities were limited by the failure of Reconstruction-era reforms and the structures of government-sponsored segregation.


Holy Family Roman Catholic ChurchHoly Family Roman Catholic Church
12010 Woodmore Road
Mitchellville MD 20721
301-249-2266
Additional Resource
Holy Family Church was built to serve the local Black Catholic community of then rural Woodmore and Mitchellville. It is a fine example of late Victorian ecclesiastical architecture with Gothic and stick style decorative elements. Built in 1890 by parishioners, mostly local black tenant farmers, Holy Family is a front gabled frame church.


Lakeland Community High School
Maryland
Additional Resources
1925 Neoclassical brick Rosenwald school with a 1940s addition. One of the first high schools for blacks in the county; built to serve the communities of Bladensburg, Brentwood, north Brentwood, Lakeland, Ammendale, Muirkirk and Laurel.


Laurel Historical Society and MuseumLaurel Mansion
817 Main Street
Laurel MD 20707
301-725-7975
Additional Resource
Located in a former mill-workers’ home, this museum houses collections of books, photographs, tools, personal artifacts, textiles, and oral histories. Its main floor is the site of exhibits devoted to the history of Laurel and the surrounding community. Downstairs is devoted to the gift shop, additional exhibits, and an audio-visual area. The 2,590-square-foot brick and stone building was erected in the early 1840s by mill owners to house their employees.


Marietta House MuseumMarrietta House Museum
5626 Bell Station Road
Glenn Dale MD 20769
301-464-5291
Additional Resource
Marietta, the Federal-style brick home of Gabriel Duvall, an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built circa 1813, Marietta remained under ownership of the Duvall family until 1902. Justice Duvall’s law office and root cellar remain today. Marietta operates as an historic house museum and is furnished and interpreted to reflect the three generations of Duvall’s that occupied the house.


Mount Nebo A.M.E. Church & CemeteryMount Nebo
17214 Queen Anne Road
Upper Marlboro MD 20774
301-249-7545
Additional Resource
1925 one-story frame gable-roof meeting-house with centered entry tower, built to replace 1877 chapel. Exemplifies the long history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in this rural area; with adjoining school became focal point for local black community.


Northampton Plantation Slave Quarters & Archaeological ParkNorthampton
Lake Overlook Drive
Bowie MD 20721
301-627-1286
Additional Resource
Historians and archaeologists are working together to reconstruct the lives of the many slaves and tenant farmers who lived at Northampton Plantation. This historic site features reconstructed foundations of two slave quarteres from the former Northampton Plantation (1673-1860). Archaeological excavations have recovered artifacts and information about the lives of African American slaves and tenant farmers who lived there from the late 18th through the mid-20th century. Interpretive signage describes the site’s hisotry and ongoing research.


Nottingham Myers Church & Cemetery
15601 Brooks Church Road
Upper Marlboro MD 20772
1939, 1983, vernacular wood frame and wood clapboard sided church; connecting wing and hyphen constructed in 1983. Focal point for the black population in the Croom-Nottingham region; strong historical connections to the Mansfield plantation and to the work of the Freedmen’s Bureau.


Poplar Hill on His Lordship’s KindnessPoplar Hill
7606 Woodyard Road
Clinton MD 20735
301-856-0358
Additional Resource
Owned and operated by the John M. and Sara R. Walton Foundation, Inc., Poplar Hill on His Lordship’s Kindness is one of three structures in Prince George’s County designated as National Historic Landmarks. Originally named “Poplar Hill,” its present name is derived from a 7,000-acre land grand from Charles Calvert, the third Lord Baltimore, to Col. Henry Darnall in 1703. The current mansion was built between 1785 and 1787 by the colonel’s great-grandson, Robert Darnall. He replaced the earlier residence of his father, Henry Darnall III, with this beautiful Georgian home. Since its construction, Poplar Hill has been home to many families, including the Darnalls, the Sewalls, the Daingerfelds, U.S. Senator John S. and Susan Daingerfeld Barbour, the Hales, the Dunhams, U.S. Ambassador David Bruce and his wife, Evangeline Bruce, the Sayers, and the last owners, the Walton family. Poplar Hill on His Lordship’s Kindness is an institution within a community that reflects the human spirit and the history of nation within the telling of stories about families, both black and white, from the late 17th century through the time of 20th century. Poplar Hill is currently closed.


Poplar Hill School
19104 Croom Road
Brandywine MD 20613
1936 side-gabled frame schoolhouse. Poplar Hill School is significant for its role in the history of public education for African-Americans in Prince George’s County during the era of government-sanctioned segregation. Poplar Hill School was the second school for “colored” students in the area, replacing a small one-room schoolhouse located approximately 600 feet to the northwest.


Queen’s Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church Site & Cemetery
7410 Old Murirkirk Road
Beltsville MD 20705
301-937-7122
This is the site of the original Queen’s Chapel, built in 1868. The original church was a small log chapel, and included a cemetery that was already being used by African Americans in the Muirkirk area. The original chapel has been replaced twice, most recently by a brick church that stands on the opposite side of the road. The construction of another chapel on an adjacent lot is currently planned. The site of the original chapel is now the cemetery of Queen’s Chapel United Methodist Church. The oldest inscribed gravestone dates back to 1886.


Ridgeley Rosenwald School
8507 Central Avenue
Capitol Heights MD 20743
1927, vernacular wood frame shingled school building with hipped roof. Built in 1927 as part of the Rosenwald program, later used as a special center and since 1960 served as the bus management office for Prince George’s County Public schools. Most intact of the 9 remaining of the original 23 Rosenwald Schools in the County.


Ridgely Methodist Episcopal Church
8900 Central Ave
Capitol Heights MD 20743
301-925-7599
Ridgely Church is a one-story, front gabled structure with pointed-arch windows with commemorative stained glass. It is bordered by a small graveyard with handsome primitively carved stones. The present building was constructed in 1921 to replace the original church founded by Lewis Ridgely in 1871 that was destroyed by fire. Lewis Ridgely was one of three original church trustees. Succeeding generations of Ridgelys remained active in the church and community. In order to accommodate the widening of Central Avenue in the late 1980s, the church was moved a short distance north, renovated and stabilized.


Saint Mary’s Beneficial Society Hall
14825 Pratt Street
Upper Marlboro MD 20772
c. 1892 -one-story, front-gabled frame structure with entrance, porch and small box office at west gable end. For nearly a century the center of social, religious, and charitable activities of local black Catholic community; last remaining building of a group of stores and houses on Pratt Street dating from 1850 to 1930; restored as law office in 1980s.


Saint Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church
6634 St. Barnabas Road
Oxon Hill MD 20745
301-567-4433
Additional Resource
St. Paul’s is thought to be he oldest black congregation in Prince George’s County. The original church was constructed in 1888. In 1915, the present sanctuary, a small front gabled building with pointed arch towers and a three-story corner tower, was built. The original church was destroyed in the 1920s and replaced by a series of church additions. The church’s congregation preceded the construction in 1888. Traveling clerics in the late 18th century preached to a group of freed blacks in Oxon Hill who had built their own meetinghouse. This group is believed to have a connection to the African American Methodist congregation that in 1867 acquired the land on which St. Paul’s was built.


Saint Thomas Methodist Church & Cemetery
18810 Aquasco Road
Brandywine MD 20613
1911, frame meeting-house style rural chapel; Gothic arch windows with tracery. Built to replace the Reconstruction-era school/church building; focal point of local black community and best surviving example of its type.


Site of Columbia Air Center
Croom Airport Road
Upper Marlboro MD 20772
301-627-6074
Additional Resource
In 1941, aviation history was made when the first black owned and operated airfield in the state of Maryland was licensed on the site at the end of Croom Airport Road. John W. Greene Jr., a pioneer in black aviation, was instrumental in developing the airfield in the state of Maryland which was originally called Riverside Field. It was occupied by the U.S. Navy during World War II and used for training missions. After the war, Greene reopened the airfield as Columbia Air Center. It offered a flying school, charter services, and facilities for major and minor repairs. The first black Civil Air Patrol squadron in the Washington, D.C. area, called the Columbia Squadron, was formed here. The site is located within Patuxent River Park which is owned and operated by The Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission. This site is currently used for agricultural purposes and none of the buildings or runways that once stood on the site are extant; interpretive signage tells the story of the historic airport and provides a map of the airfield when it was in use.


Site of Northamptonsite of northhampton slave quarters
10900 block Lake Arbor Way
Mitchellville MD 20721
18th and 19th centuries, site includes foundations of 18th-century Northampton plantation house, and ruins of one frame and one brick two-family slave quarter Archaeological site of unique importance, particularly for the early 19th century brick quarter, one of only three known brick quarters in Southern Maryland, owned by M-NCPPC.


St. Mark’s Methodist Episcopal Church
601 8th Street
Laurel MD 20707
301-776-8885
Additional Resource
Since 1921, St. Mark’s Methodist Episcopal Church has served as a landmark within the city of Laurel. The history of the congregation dates back to 1891 when James Hebron and two other black Methodists purchased the land for the church. The frame of the church sat across the street from the Laurel Colored School, which was constructed in 1884. St. Mark’s has served an active congregation since it’s founding, and represents the religious center for a long-standing black community.


Wilmer’s Park
15710 Brandywine Road
Brandywine MD 20613
301-751-5074
Additional Resource
1947-1970; 80-acre parcel containing the ruins of a dance hall, motel, ranch house, covered stage, baseball and football fields. As a major stop on the Chitlin Circuit, Wilmer’s Park opened its doors to African-American musicians, entertainers, athletes and fans from the early 1950s through the late 1960s; Arthur Wilmer used his experience and connections developed as the owner of a night club in Washington, D. C. to bring both popular acts and up-and-coming performers to rural Prince George’s County; the bandstand at Wilmer’s Park showcased everyone from Duke Ellington and Otis Redding to the Temptations, Patti La Belle, and a young Stevie Wonder; the former tobacco farm played an important role in exposing emerging musicians to local African Americans during a time of segregation.


Woodville School
21500 Aquasco Road
Aquasco MD 20608
Additional Resource
1934, one-story frame schoolhouse with three classrooms built to serve black children in the Woodville/Aquasco area. The school house was sold by auction in 1956 to the Knights of St. John’s Commandery #373 for use as its headquarters.


Special activities, programs, and events are held at our Historic sites throughout the year.


Photos are courtesy of their respective websites.