A Brief History of 16th Street Baptist Church

Wallace Rayfield, Architect

Organized in 1873 as the First Colored Baptist Church of Birmingham, Alabama. Sixteenth Street was the first black church in Birmingham. Initially, the congregation worshiped in a small building on the corner of 12th Street North and 4th Avenue and later moved to 3rd Avenue North between 19th and 20th Streets.

In 1880 the congregation moved to its present location at 16th Street and 6th Avenue North.  A modern brick building was erected in 1884 that established precedence for church building in the city.

Ordered by the City of Birmingham to tear down its building, the church officials commissioned Mr. Wallace Rayfield, the state’s only Black architect, to design a new church building.  A native of Macon, Georgia, Mr. Rayfield had been raised in Washington, D.C.  He received his education at Howard University, Washington, D.C. and Pratt Institute in New York City.  The church, designed by him, was built at a cost of $26,000.00 under the supervision of T.C. Windham, a black contractor from Birmingham.  Mr. Windham was a member and served, for a period, as Chairman of the church’s Trustee Board.  Keep Reading...