Former Home to the Nation of Islam in Baltimore
Mosque No. 6, the predecessor of the Masjid Ul-Haqq, first moved into their present building on Wilson Street around 1958. The two-story brick building had most recently housed a automotive garage but it dated back to the 1870s and operated as part of P. Bradley’s Livery Stables up through the early 1900s.
By the 1920s, new owners converted the stables into a garage and service station. As Black residents moved into rowhouses along Division Street, Druid Hill Avenue, McCulloh Street, and Madison Avenue the business changed as well. By 1938, the business then known as Jack’s Garage had a Black manager, William Goodwin. That same year, Chandler V. Wynn acquired the business. A North Carolina native, Wynn moved to Baltimore and graduated from Morgan State College in 1931.
Wynn was just one of thousands of African Americans moving from North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland’s Eastern Shore to seek new opportunities in Baltimore in 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s. In Baltimore, along with New York, Detroit, Chicago, and Philadelphia, the migration coincided with a rise of new Black religious movements—including the Nation of Islam founded by Georgia-native Wallace Fard Muhammad in Detroit, Michigan in 1930.
Elijah Muhammad became the leader of the Nation of Islam in 1934. Around 1935, Muhammad helped establish a temple in Washington, D.C. making it the fourth temple after Detroit, Chicago, and Milwaukee. The growth of the movement slowed after Elijah Muhammad’s arrest for resisting the draft and spent four years in prison from 1942 to 1946.
Baltimore’s mosque was established the same year as Muhammad’s release and grew quickly in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In 1957, the congregation, then led by Minister Isaiah Karriem, was formally designated Temple No. 6 (later known as Mosque Six) and bought their building on Wilson Street the next year.
Since the end of World War II, the garage had seen use as the Maryland School of Camera Repairs and as a warehouse for the Gelco Corporation, a distributor for aluminum storm windows, doors, and awnings.
In 1958, Malcolm X came to Baltimore to speak and help the nascent temple to raise money and adapt their new building to their needs. On Sunday, June 26, 1960, Elijah Muhammad spoke at Mosque Six before a crowd of nearly one thousand people packed into the building’s main auditorium while another five hundred listened to the speech over a public address system downstairs, and several hundred stood or sat outside the building listening the to speech over outdoor loud speakers.
Within weeks, Minister Isaiah Karriem launched a fundraising campaign seeking $60,000 for the addition of a “gymnasium-recreation center” at the rear of the 300-seat temple. Karriem made the case for the planned addition of a modern athletic facility, saying:
The only way to end juvenile delinquency is to get children in off the streets. We feel that this is a step in that direction.
By 1960, the facility included a business bureau, cafeteria, kitchen, auditorium and minister’s study. According to the AFRO, the “spic and span” cafeteria seated one hundred diners and the “spotless” kitchen, directed by Sister Stella X, was “equipped with modern facilities and utensils.”
Throughout this period, members of the Nation of Islam were subject to close surveillance by the FBI. In January 1972, members of the mosque confronted two FBI agents in an apartment across the street from the mosque where they had set up for surveillance. When the agents drew their guns, the members called the police who, unaware of the identity of the two men, arrested them both. Undeterred, the mosque continued to grow during the 1960s.
Elijah Muhammad’s death in 1975 marked the beginning of a new chapter with significant changes in the community’s approach to religious practice. In 1976, the mosque was renamed Masjid Muhammad. Members welcomed Muhammad Ali for a visit to the mosque in 1980 and to a second visit in 1982. In 1994, Masjid Muhammad became Masjid Al Haqq and, in 2003, members worked with the Baltimore Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation to list the building as a local historic landmark.