In 1886, the African Baptist Church, on Sophia Street, sustained serious flood damage. The congregation purchased a new site on higher ground, but a clouded deed delayed construction. In the interim, approximately half of the members decided to rebuild their church on the old site. The other half erected the sanctuary in front of you, in 1890, and named it the Shiloh Baptist Church (New Site).
At that time African-Americans sought to overcome racial discrimination through education. In 1906, Joseph Walker and a group of like-minded citizens decided to provide a high school for black students, since Fredericksburg Colored School was limited to the elementary grades. They established the Fredericksburg Normal and Industrial Institute, which opened in the basement of the Shiloh Baptist Church (New Site), but eventually moved to a more permanent location in what would later become the black community of Mayfield.
(sidebar) The cornerstone for the Shiloh Baptist Church (New Site), laid in June 1890, came from the old pro-slavery Methodist Church. Sealed within it was a Bible, a roll of names related to the church, a silver and a greenback dollar, the Grand Army of the Republic badge of Union veteran Benjamin F. Ross (54th Massachusetts Infantry), and a resolution of thanks to P.V.D. Conway (brother of local abolitionist Moncure Conway) who had donated the stone.
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