Mount Zion United Methodist Church
The oldest African American congregation founded in 1816. The founders, along with other free and enslaved African American Methodists had worshiped at the Montgomery Street Church (now Dumbarton United Methodist Church) founded in 1772. The records of Montgomery Street Methodist church indicate that in 1801 “ thirty seven of its 95 members were colored.” Dissatisfied with segregation, some 125 black parishioners met on June 3, 1814, purchased a lot on Mill Street (27th Street) from Henry Foxhall, a white foundry owner, and built a church called “The Meeting House” or “the Little Ark” operating under Montgomery Street Church supervision. In 1844, the name was changed to Mt Zion Methodist church and provided spiritual sustenance serving as an educational, civic, and social center. Mt. Zion was administered by white ministers from the mother church until 1864. An African American minister, Rev. John H. Brice, was not appointed until 1849. Mt. Zion burned down on July 13, 1880. Fortunately, the congregation had purchased a lot from Alfred Pope for $2,581. The present Mt. Zion is on that lot and its cornerstone laid in 1876 and re-laid in 1880 when the first service was held.
Demographic and economic changes in Washington led to fewer and fewer members of Mt. Zion actually living in Georgetown. Beginning in the 1930s, the demand for housing by whites in Georgetown resulted in the escalation of real estate prices forcing many African Americans residents to leave the neighborhood where generations of their families had resided.
(Source: National Park Service)