This church is the oldest in the Upper Fells Point Historic District, completed in 1848. Originally dedicated as a “mariner’s church,” it has been home to several community institutions over the past 170+ years.
South Broadway Baptist Church is the present-day name belonging to the oldest congregation established by Lumbee Indians in Baltimore City. The congregation’s first meetings are recorded as having taken place in 1952, but services were held in different Lumbee homes and rented storefronts until 1967, when the congregation purchased its first building at 1117 W. Cross Street, and adopted the name West Cross Street Baptist Church. As the church grew, so did the Indian community’s interest in it. West Cross Street Baptist got permission from the Fells Point Methodist Board of Missions to use the church at 211 S. Broadway for their annual homecomings, due to its capacious size and location on “the reservation.” In 1977, Mayor William Donald Schaefer attended a homecoming celebration and the congregation shared with him their desire to purchase the building at 211 S. Broadway. The City of Baltimore helped to arrange a loan for the down payment and funds to rehabilitate the historic structure. Members of the church organized fundraising efforts to pay back the loan. On June 11, 1978, they lined up at a vacant lot at the corner of N. Ann and E. Baltimore streets for a “victory march” to their new space. A majority Lumbee congregation attends South Broadway Baptist Church to this day.
South Broadway Baptist wasn’t the first Indian institution to occupy 211 S. Broadway. In 1970, the Southeast Community Action Agency (caa) leased 211 S. Broadway on behalf of the American Indian Study Center. The Center used the back entrance of what was still “the Methodist church” at that time. It occupied an office adjoining the sanctuary, an office on the second floor, and held culture class in the fellowship hall, until it acquired its current facility at 113 S. Broadway, in 1972. In partnership with the Baltimore City Board of Education, the Center made a successful application for federal Indian Education funding and Baltimore’s Indian Education Program began in 1973. Its first office was the room on the second floor of 211 S. Broadway that the American Indian Study Center had previously occupied. The office later relocated to a Baltimore City Public School.