WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — The brick foundation of one of the nation’s oldest black churches has been unearthed at Colonial Williamsburg, a living history museum in Virginia that continues to reckon with its past storytelling about the country’s origins and the role of black Americans.
The First Baptist Church was formed in 1776 by free and enslaved black people. They initially met secretly in fields and under trees in defiance of laws that prevented African Americans from congregating.
By 1818, the church had its first building in the former colonial capital. The 16-foot-by-20-foot structure was destroyed by a tornado in 1834.
First Baptist’s second structure, built in 1856, stood there for a century. But an expanding Colonial Williamsburg bought the property in 1956 and