Wendell P. Dabney      

Guide to African American Resources
at the Cincinnati History Library and Archives




Subject Categories



Cincinnati History
Library and Archives

Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal










Calvary Baptist Church
  Calvary Baptist Church is one of the oldest churches in Cincinnati. It had its start at the foot of Plum Street, one of the most desperate areas in town. The police called it “Hell’s Half Acre”, where poor people – black and white, lived in run-down tenements, with easy access to saloons to drown their sorrows.  
Into this place Joseph Emery and a few other Christian men wanted to bring the gospel. In 1867 they held outdoor meetings, until a woman and her daughter living there opened her home to them to hold prayer meetings. As their group grew, a bigger place was needed. Reverend Emery and Pastor Webb obtained a dance house in the area and converted it to a Sabbath-school room.
This place too was soon outgrown, and from 1870 until 1886, the congregation met in a rented store at 3rd and Elm Streets. By 1887 the membership numbered 210, with 75 attending Sabbath-school, so again the leaders were looking for a “good, commodious house of worship” and bought a place at 323 McFarland Street.
In 1925, under the leadership of Rev. Elijah Kelley, a church building located on 8th and Mound Streets was purchased from the Quakers. In the 1960s, while under the pastorate of Rev. J. J. Evans, the property was sold for urban renewal. A new building was purchased at Highland and Dorchester Avenue, providing the congregation with more space for choirs and a baptismal pool.
Some of the biggest changes would take place under the guidance of Rev. Zedric W. Coaston, the seventh pastor of Calvary Baptist Church. Called to the church in 1967, Coaston initiated renovations to the building and expanded the youth programs. In 1977 the congregation decided to sell their building and purchased a larger building at 801 William Howard Taft Road in Walnut Hills. Here additional church organizations were established including the Adult Bible Class, the Altar Guild and the Quarter Century Club.


To learn more about Calvary Baptist Church, consult the following resources:

Calvary Baptist Church : Mortgage Burning Sunday, July 12, 1987
Pamphlets f286 C167
View catalog record   Request slip
Calvary Baptist Church : Celebrating and
Serving Our Lord for One Hundred & Thirty Years

Pamphlets f286 C167c
View catalog record   Request slip

Sources Used for Historical Sketch:
  • Calvary Baptist Church : Mortgage Burning Sunday, July 12, 1987. Pamphlets f286 C167, Cincinnati History Library and Archives. Cincinnati Museum Center.


Cincinnati History Library and Archives
Mailing address: 250 W. Court Street, Suite 300 East, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Email: library@cincymuseum.org
Copyright © 2004-2018 Cincinnati Museum Center.
All Rights Reserved.
Images not to be reproduced without written authorization.
This online guide opened on February 10, 2004.