Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Art History

First Advisor

Dr. Charles Brownell


The purpose of this thesis is to examine rural African-American vernacular Baptist churches built in the years following the Civil War. The case study is centered in Hanover County, Virginia, because of the county's strategic location inrelation to the capital of the Confederacy in Richmond. Due to the overwhelming number of slaves, Anglo-Americans attempted to suppress African identity by forcing slaves to attend Anglo-American churches. A number of African-American congregations were secretly organized during the time of slavery. Until the fall of Richmond in spring 1865, African-Americans were not allowed to assemble publicly without Anglo-American supervision. In the years following Emancipation, African-Americans began separating from the Anglo-American congregations to formindependent churches. Upon separation, worship services were held in brush arbors and/or old shanties and were occasionally held in Anglo-American churches. Eventually, African-American church members acquired land to erect churches of their own. Using Chestnut Grove Baptist Church (circa 1870), Shiloh Baptist Church(circa 1877), Union Baptist Church (circa 1885) and Second Union Baptist Church (circa 1885) in Hanover County as a case study, this thesis asks precisely who built these churches, how they were constructed and why they were built the way theywere built.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008