Perkins Square Baptist Church
Perkins Square Baptist Church has been an institution on Edmondson Avenue since the mid-1950s occupying a grey stone church that began in 1913 as Emmanuel English Evangelical Lutheran Church. The two-story tall church was designed by local architect A. Cookman Leach and built by C.C. Watts.
Alfred Cookman Leach graduated from the Maryland Institute Freehand Division in 1896 and worked as a partner of the firm of Tormey and Leach. Examples of Leach’s religious buildings can be found across the city including the Highland Methodist Episcopal Church (built 1906) at Highland and Pratt Streets, the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church South (built 1927) on Liberty Heights Avenue, and the Alpheus W. Wilson Methodist Episcopal Church South (built 1927) at University Parkway and Charles Street.
Established in 1888, the Emmanuel English Evangelical Lutheran Church had formerly occupied a building at the corner of Schroeder and Pierce Streets. Pastors from ten Evangelical Lutheran Churches throughout Baltimore participated in the cornerstone laying ceremony on July 13, 1913. The church had organized the first of a series of outdoor services the prior Sunday and planned to continue outdoor meetings at the site of their new building through July and August. Within the cornerstone, at the southeast corner of the building, the church placed, copies of The Baltimore Sun, the church constitution, the proceedings of the last synod, a list of officers of the congregation, a hymnal and a bible.
In the decade after WWII, the church, like many largely white congregations in the area, moved west to new neighborhoods at the developing western edge of Baltimore. Under the leadership of Reverend George Loose, Emmanuel Lutheran Church dedicated a new church on Ingleside Avenue in 1957 leaving their building at Edmondson and Warwick to Perkins Square Baptist Church.
Perkins Square Baptist Church was established in 1881 and takes its name from a small park and fresh-water spring located in the area of Heritage Crossing today. The congregation quickly grew to become one of the largest black Baptist churches in Baltimore and hosted regular community meetings, including a 1905 rally to campaign against the "Poe amendment" proposed by Senator Arthur Pue Gorman and the Maryland Democratic Party to disenfranchise black voters in Maryland. Virginia native Ward D. Yerby became pastor of the church in 1970 and led the move west to purchase the new church in January 1956. Rev. Yerby served as executive secretary of the Governor's Commission on Interracial Problems and Relations in the late 1950s.