National Geographic Society

  • Connect:

Facts: Philadelphia AME Church

Photo: Abandoned room

Photo: Abandoned room (View larger version)

Photograph by Jason Dufner

  • Benjamin Franklin was a member of the congregation that built the Church.

  • The bell that was once in the bell tower of the Church rang for the signers of the declaration of independence.

  • Edgar Allen Poe lived a half a mile from the Church for 6 years while he wrote many short stories, including “The Tell-Tale Heart.

  • Harry Hanley Parker, an acclaimed Philadelphia artist known for his murals, sculptures and architecture, painted the life size biblical mural behind the altar in the main sanctuary of the Church.

  • In 1816, William Henry, a resident who lived 2.5 miles from the Ruffin Nichols Church was the first private residence that was illuminated by gas.

  • In 1979 lightning shattered the once present, sizable 10 foot granite steeple that sat atop the front tower of the Church.

  • A large Wurlitzer pipe organ is housed in the main sanctuary, which was operational in the 60's and was accompanied by a full choir and organ player for Sunday Mass.

  • The Church was fashioned after Gothic Revival Architecture, some of the most distinguishing features being lavish exterior stone work, tall windows with pointed arches and intricate stained glass.

  • Stained glass reached its height in the Middle Ages when it became a major pictorial art form, which was used to illustrate the narratives of the Bible to those who couldn't read.

  • The Church was built in 1844 and was operational until the Fall of 2010.

  • The AME Church was founded in 1816 by Richard Allen, after black members of the nearby Methodist Episcopal Church became disillusioned with how they were treated.

  • Today, the African Methodist Episcopal Church has membership in twenty Episcopal Districts in thirty-nine countries on five continents.

  • Built by The Church of Saint Jude, this Episcopal Church was once considered one of the most richly furnished and classic churches in the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of that time.