The Way It Was


Published:

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE BURTON HISTORICAL COLLECTION, DETROIT PUBLIC LIBRARY (HARVEY C. JACKSON COLLECTION)

1915 Everyone got into the act in this circa-1915 shot, when the congregation of the Bethel A.M.E (African Methodist Episcopal) Church posed in front of their house of worship on Napoleon and Hastings streets in what was called Black Bottom, an African-American enclave on the east side. Adjoining the church is the Bethel Social Services building. As the historical papers at the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library attest, Bethel A.M.E. Church has a long history. The seeds were planted in 1839 when a group of 50 people formed the Colored Methodist Society. Two years later they became allied with African Methodist Episcopal denomination. The first church was on Lafayette, but the cornerstone was laid in December of 1889 for the growing church in this picture. In 1925, the congregation moved to a new edifice on Frederick Street at St. Antoine Street and was known for several years as Greater Bethel. Finally, in 1974, the church relocated to a new building on St. Antoine near Warren Avenue, where the congregation continues to thrive. According to Bethel A.M.E.’s website, the church in this photo also invited prominent people to address the congregation, including writer and activist W.E.B. Du Bois. Throughout its history, Bethel A.M.E. Church has been in close touch with its community. Various church-affiliated groups included the Housewives’ League, which promoted the awareness of black-owned businesses, and the Nurses Guild, which offered training in nursing while extending complimentary community service. 

 

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Arab American Museum Gives Platform to Contemporary Saudi Artists

New exhibit aims to challenge stereotypes about Arab culture

Tony Hawk and Artist Ryan McGinness Bring a Contemporary Skate Park to Downtown Detroit

Chicago Artist Brings Caribbean Flavor to Downtown Detroit

Library Street Collective partners with Carlos “Dzine” Rolón to present a sculpture installation inspired by the artist’s rich Puerto Rican culture.

Ford Arts, Beats, and Eats Celebrates 20 Years This Labor Day Weekend

The Royal Oak festival will feature an expanded lineup of performances, dining, and activities

Metro Detroit-Based Dreamers Have Messages for Congress

Neighbors share their dreams and concerns about the president’s DACA decision
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Best Dressed 2017
    Meet metro Detroit's most stylish NFL player, dentist, nail salon owner, and more
  2. Taking Flight
    Heritage guides young owners of Rove Estate
  3. Craft Cider and Beer Festival Returns August 26-27
    The third annual Cider Dayze celebration takes place this weekend