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