A view from down Princess Anne Street, you can see the spire of the Baptist Church built by the White Population of the old site Shiloh Church.

Fredericksburg Baptist Church

Pictured here is the Fredericksburg Baptist Church state Marker
Lakelyn Wiley, “Fredericksburg Baptist Church Historical Marker,” 2018.


The prominent sanctuary to your right is the Fredericksburg Baptist Church, constructed in 1854-55. When it was built, Princess Anne Street was already developing as the town’s religious and government center. Other churches included St. George’s Episcopal Church (1849) and the Presbyterian Church (1833). Nearby government buildings included the Town Hall (1814) and the Court House (1852). During the December 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg, Union troops cleared the church for use as a hospital. The chapel and the sanctuary became densely packed with wounded men and surgeons did their best to attend to them while shells occasionally whistled overhead. The despoiled sanctuary rendered the church unusable until after the war, but the Baptist congregation recovered. Today, Fredericksburg’s historic churches continues to thrive.


The Fredericksburg Baptist Church was founded in 1804 and met in a framed building on Lafayette Boulevard. There is no record of when and where the congregation had first begun meeting (1).

Portrait of Andrew Broaddus--The Fredericksburg Baptist Church's First Minister
Portrait of Andrew Broaddus–The Fredericksburg Baptist Church’s First Minister (18)

The first pastor of the church was Rev. Andrew B. Broaddus. Broaddus, of Caroline County, Virginia was a highly regarded pastor who constituted the oldest women’s missionary society in 1814. He stayed with the church for four years (2).

In 1818, the congregation transferred their church services to a newly constructed building on Sophia Street named Shiloh Baptist Church (3). The congregation of Shiloh Church consisted of both black and white members of the community. The fledgling church had issues at the beginning including witnessing a schism in 1832 that led members of the church to leave and start the local Disciples of Christ Church (4). Shiloh Baptist Church would continue services and was primarily composed of African Americans (5).However, in order for an African American to join the church, they had to be examined by a group of white deacons (6). It is reported that in the late 1830s and 1840s the congregation consisted of 300 ‘members of color’. Although they reported these numbers, it is likely that most of the members that were present for Sunday service were white (7).

African American Children going to church at Shiloh Baptist Church
Children going to church at Shiloh Baptist Church (19)

Despite the setbacks, the church continued to grow. By 1840, the church accounted for over 800 members with nearly one-quarter of them demographically identified as slaves and freedmen (8). It was clear that the church needed more room for continued growth so they bought an empty lot on the corner of Princess Anne and Amelia Street. Funded practically entirely by the congregation, and under the leadership of Reverend William F. Broaddus (no relation to Andrew Broaddus), the building was erected in 1855. However, the congregation did not move to the newly erected building; it was only for the whites (9). The congregation renamed the church, Fredericksburg Baptist Church and excluded and “dismissed” African Americans from membership (10).

Photograph of a war-torn Fredericksburg Baptist Church during the Civil War
Fredericksburg Baptist Church During the American Civil War (20)

Throughout the Civil War, the Church witnessed the bloodshed and horrors of battle and suffered damage as a result of the skirmishes (11). A large number of members of the community and church fled Fredericksburg among them includes Rev. Broaddus (12). Services at the church ceased in 1862 and did not commence again until 1865. It was clear that the church needed a major facelift and the members aimed to restore the church. In the spring of 1866, Reverend T.S. Dunaway led the church process of rebuilding despite the economic issues that plagued not only Fredericksburg but the entire former Confederate South (13). Following the repairs, membership soared and Dunaway remained the pastor until 1898; the longest serving pastor in the church’s history (14).

Fredericksburg Baptist Church in the 20th-century experienced continuous growth under the leadership of numerous pastors such as Emerson Swift and Robert F. Caverlee (15). The church was involved in not only the affairs of the Baptist community but the programs within Fredericksburg and various parts of the world. In the 1980s Fredericksburg Baptist Church began to send volunteers to assist in mission projects in less fortunate countries such as Haiti, Chile, Mexico, St. Lucia, and the Czech Republic (16).

Pictured here is Fredericksburg Baptist Church

The church has undergone changes in order to facilitate the expanding congregation and to continue to preserve the historic building (17).


Featured Image:

Fredericksburg, Virginia. “View on Princess Anne Street Showing Baptist Church and 6th Corps Hospital, 1864,” Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/cwp2003004759/PP/.

(1) “Our History: The Distinguished Heritage of Fredericksburg Baptist Church,” Fredericksburg Baptist Church, http://www.fredericksburgbaptistchurch.org/history, (accessed March 31, 2018).

(2) Jim Duvall, “Andrew Broaddus: Early Baptist Minister, 1789-1848,” Annals of the American Baptist Pulpit, http://baptisthistoryhomepage.com/broaddus.andrew.annalsbio.html.

(3)”Our History”

(4) Ibid.

(5) Ruth Coder Fitzgerald, A Different Story: A Black History of Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Spotsylvania Virginia, (United States of America: Unicorn, 1979), 117.

(6) Janice P. Davies, Bernice Easley, Faye Jones, Roland Moore, Mark W. Olsen, and Dee Simmons, “A History of Fredericksburg Congregation that Became Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site),” http://www.shiloholdsite.org/narrative.html. (accessed March 31, 2018).

(7) Ibid.

(8) “Our History”

(9) Ibid.

(10) “Shiloh Baptist Church”

(11) “Our History”

(12) Ibid.

(13) Ibid.

(14) Ibid.

(15) Ibid.

(16) Ibid.

(17) Ibid.

(18) “Portrait of Andrew Broaddus,” Digital Image, Baptist History Homepage, http://baptisthistoryhomepage.com/broaddus.andrew.index.html.

(19)”Children on the Streets of Fredericksburg, possibly before 1887,” photograph, Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site), http://www.shiloholdsite.org/narrative.html.

(20) James B. Gardner, “Baptist Church, Fredericksburg, Virginia, from the backyard of the Sanitary Commission,” Digital Image, 1864, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fredericksburg_Baptist_Church#/media/File:Baptist_Church,_Fredericksburg,_Virginia,_from_the_backyard_of_the_Sanitary_Commission_depot.jpg.

(21) Lakelyn Wiley, “Front of the Fredericksburg Baptist Church,” Digital Image, 2018.

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