FRIENDSHIP BAPTIST CHURCH / HOUSE OF FRIENDSHIP COMMUNITY CENTER
144-146 West 131st Street, Manhattan
1883, William J. Merritt
170 West 130th Street, Manhattan
1884, William J. Merritt; 1928, altered by Vertner Woodson Tandy
Originally constructed for the Baptist Church of the Redeemer, this freestanding Romanesque Revival style building is of great cultural importance to the city for its ties to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s-60’s. After changing hands several times, it was sold in 1936 to the Friendship Baptist Church, founded by the Rev. Dr. John Iverson Mumford. From the beginning, the church supported Civil Rights. Its second pastor, Dr. Thomas Kilgore Jr., was an associate of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who delivered a sermon here in 1955. Among Rev. Kilgore’s other local and national Civil Rights efforts, he led the church to found the House of Friendship Community Center, which, in 1963, became the National Headquarters for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, organized by Bayard Rustin. The congregation, still active today, was deeply involved in organizing the Harlem community’s participation in that historic March. In addition to its social and political significance, 170 West 130th Street’s façade is architecturally significant as the work of Vertner Woodson Tandy, the first African-American architect registered in New York State. The House of Friendship Community Center is located in the Central Harlem West -- 130-132nd Street Historic District.