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Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail
Site #19
People's Baptist Church
(now The Pearl) 45 Pearl Street

Baptist Church

SPECIAL: History of The Pearl

In 1908 the black People's Baptist Church became independent from Middle Street Baptist Church, and in 1915, under the leadership of the Reverend John L. Davis, purchased this former Free Will Baptist church built in 1851. For fifty years People's Baptist Church welcomed pulpit exchanges with neighboring churches and Baha'is. Guest preachers included the Rev. Martin Luther King in 1952, then a doctoral student at Boston University. Church activities included care of the sick, charitable work, fund raising dinners, and on at least on occasion an elderly parishioner's reminiscences of "slavery days." As the only black church in town, its congregation was multidenominational. It was also home to many black social and political activities. People's Baptist Church disbanded in the 1970s. Several former members were founders New Hope Baptist Church, which flourishes today on Peverly Hill Road.

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Portsmouth, New Hampshire 03801 Email:

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