Texas’s First African Methodist Episcopal Church
In 1848 the Methodist Episcopal Church South established an African American church for its slaves. The trustees purchased land at 20th and Broadway and a church was erected. In 1866 the church and the land were deeded to the newly freed slaves with the Reverend M.M. Clark as the pastor. In 1867 it became the first African Methodist Episcopal Church in Texas. The name “Reedy” was taken from the Reverend Houston Reedy who was Clark’s successor. The great fire of 1885 destroyed the first church building. The present building, which was begun in 1886, is a combination gothic revival architecture and regional craftsmanship. The masonry of the church was laid by its renowned church member Norris Wright Cuney.
Two of over 200 historical markers on the island, this marker is located at Reedy Chapel A.M.E. Church. The marker was erected in 1975 by the Texas Historical Commission.
“Trustees of the Methodist Church purchased this lot in 1848 as a worship site for black slaves. Meetings were held outdoors until a building was erected in 1863. At the end of the Civil War (1865), ownership of the property was transferred to the recently-freed blacks, who organized the first African Methodist Episcopal Church in Texas. It was later named in honor of the Rev. Houston Reedy of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who served as the first pastor. The church survived several natural disasters, beginning in 1875, when the sanctuary was damaged in a storm. It was destroyed in 1885 by a fire that burned a large area of the city. Finished in 1887, the present structure was restored after the destructive hurricane of 1900, and repaired again in 1947 and 1957.”
“More than 30 ministers have served this congregation, including the Rev. J. E. Edwards, the Rev. Josiah Armstrong, the Rev. M. D. Moody, the Rev. W. R. Beamer, the Rev. Louis H. Reynolds, the Rev. A. I. Henley, the Rev. R. C. Walker, the Rev. Erford Barker, the Rev. C. B. Bryant, and the current (1975) pastor, the Rev. Sylvester L. Green. Many of Galveston’s prominent black citizens have been members of Reedy Chapel A. M. E. Church. Today the fellowship includes several descendants of the original founders.”
“This structure, erected during the pastorate of the Rev. J. E. Edwards, replaced the first Reedy Chapel Church on this site, destroyed by the 1885 Galveston fire. Contractor E. F. Campbell began construction in 1886. Four storms hit the island that year, delaying completion of the project until 1887. Severely damaged by the hurricane of 1900, the building was restored to its original Gothic style. The church was repaired and enlarged again in 1947 and 1957.”
“Recorded Texas Historic Landmark – 1975”