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Study of Colonial Williamsburg’s First Baptist Church Continues

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Williamsburg Church AnnexWILLIAMSBURG, VIRGINIA—The Virginia Gazette reports that researchers led by Jack Gary, Colonial Williamsburg’s director of archaeology, have uncovered traces of the late nineteenth–century addition to the 1856 First Baptist Church building that once stood on South Nassau Street. The congregation that built these structures was founded by free and enslaved African Americans in 1776. Gary said the church’s pulpit and altar were placed in the addition. The excavation of the church site has also revealed pottery, glass, and artifacts such as a nineteenth-century ink bottle. Investigation of the rest of the lot where the church was located has also uncovered a pit dated to the early eighteenth century. The pit may be connected to John Tullitt, a bricklayer who was the first documented owner of the site, Gary explained. The researchers are continuing to communicate with the descendants of First Baptist Church members and members of the current congregation about how the project will proceed. To read about African Americans who fled slavery and built independent communities, go to "Letter from Virginia: Free Before Emancipation."

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