**Display items listed at bottom of page**
Welcome to my BKBB exhibit installation, which follows the history of two Black Presbyterian churches originally located in the Society Hill area, starting with the first African American congregation in the United States, First African Presbyterian Church, and then focusing on the progression of one specific parish, Lombard Street Central (renamed Lombard Central after its move to West Philadelphia in the 1930s). Second African Presbyterian Church, burned during the 1844 Lombard Street Riots, is also mentioned.
Lombard Central’s history, including the leadership of four influential ministers from 1807 to 1994, also touches on the social issues and events that shaped these stories and our current reality. The physical installation, featuring three kiosks containing the twelve panels you can click on below, is viewable in the front garden of the Presbyterian Historical Society at 425 Lombard Street, Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 4:30.
Kiosk 1 starts in 1807 with the First African Presbyterian Church in the United States, founded by John Gloucester. The overview continues with the creation of Lombard Street Central Presbyterian Church in 1844 by Stephen Gloucester, John Gloucester’s son.
In 1939, the church moved to West Philadelphia, with John Coleman as pastor. Kiosk 2 shows how during this time the congregation included my relatives, Jeanne and Lloyd Sample, whose history is documented in the PHS collections and on display inside the lobby. Near the bottom of this page you can watch a short video where my grandmother and I look at that documentation.
The Samples are just two of the thousands of parishioners who have worshipped at Lombard Central through the years, many of whom belong to families that migrated to Philadelphia during the Great Migration.
The historical overview concludes with the leadership of pastor Delrio A. Berry at the end of the 20th century and a photographic reflection on four church locations as they appear today: the original site of First African, the 1840s-1930s site of Lombard Street Central, the current location of Lombard Central in West Philadelphia, and the re-interred remains of Stephen Gloucester at Old Pine Presbyterian Church, which is adjacent to the Presbyterian Historical Society.
Images not from the PHS collections
Kiosk 1, Panel 1
Historic map of Philadelphia, courtesy of New York Public Library, https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/
Kiosk 1, Panel 2
Family worship in a plantation in South Carolina, The Illustrated London News, 1863-12-08, courtesy of University of South Carolina, https://digital.library.sc.edu/
Illustration of First African Presbyterian Church, by B.R. Evans 1884, courtesy of The Library Company of Philadelphia, https://librarycompany.org/
Kiosk 1, Panel 3
Title page of Colored American Newspaper 1902, courtesy of New York Public Library, https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/
Kiosk 1, Panel 4
Portraits of William Still, courtesy of New York Public Library, https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/
Philadelphia Tribune Vol. 59, No. 34, August 7, 1943, courtesy of National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC, https://nmaahc.si.edu/
Atlas of Philadelphia, 7th Ward, 1874, Plate 5, courtesy of Free Library of Philadelphia, https://www.freelibrary.org/
Kiosk 2, Panel 4
Photo of Jeanna Porter Sample, courtesy of West Chester University via Ancestry.com
Kiosk 3, Panel 4
Original location of former First African Presbyterian Church at 7th and Bainbridge Streets, by BKBB videographer Carmella Vassor-Johnson
Original location and building of Lombard Central Presbyterian Church at 836 Lombard Street, by BKBB videographer Carmella Vassor-Johnson
Current location of Lombard Central Presbyterian Church on Powelton Avenue (4201 Powelton Avenue), by BKBB exhibit creator Briana Anthony
Old Pine Presbyterian Church and grave marker of Stephen Gloucester, by BKBB videographer Carmella Vassor-Johnson
PHS blog about Lombard Street Central Church, by Kenneth Ross, 2017
Items on Display in PHS Lobby
Dissertation history of Lombard Central Presbyterian Church (Philadelphia, Pa.), by LCPC pastor Rev. Dr. Delrio A. Berry, 1994
Register, Lombard Street Central Presbyterian Church, 1844-1922
One Hundred and Forty Years: 1844-1984, Lombard Central Presbyterian Church, 1944
Anthony/Sample Family Tree, by exhibit creator Briana Anthony, 2021
Presbyterians and the Negro: A History, by Andrew E. Murray
Yearbook photo, Jeanne Victoria (Porter) Sample, 1917. Via Ancestry.com
Chalice, First African Presbyterian Church (Philadelphia, Pa.)
African American mission photographs, Record Group 303, 1920s-1930s