Wendell P. Dabney      

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




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Zion Baptist Church
  Zion Baptist Church was organized in the fall of 1842 by Father Wallace Shelton with members from Union Baptist Church. The congregation was first located on Plum Street and, from this location, actively aided fugitive slaves through the Underground Railroad. In 1867 Zion built one of the first brick churches owned by African Americans in Cincinnati. The many accomplishments of Zion Baptist Church have been recognized throughout the United States and have earned it the nickname, "Big Zion."  
Under Rev. J. Franklin Walker (1905-1913) many improvements were made, including the installation of electricity, the purchase of the first pipe organ and the installation of a galvanized roof. The congregation's next pastor, Rev. P. W. Edison (1913-1926), brought about a spiritual awakening and 1,080 new members were added. In February 1927, Rev. B. F. Reid was called to Zion Baptist Church and, during his time, more accomplishments were made, including the purchases of the church annex on West 9th Street, a parsonage on Huntington Place and other property.
Rev. L. Venchael Booth became the thirteenth pastor in 1952 and served the congregation until 1984. In the late 1950s the city notified the congregation that they would have to move because their building was in the path of the city's urban renewal program. They purchased property on Glenwood Avenue in Avondale and the new Zion Baptist Church was dedicated in June 1961.
The church then began to focus on the housing needs of the community. In 1967, the Zion Nursing Home, a 50 bed unit, was completed at a cost of $400,000. The next year Shelton Gardens was opened with 138 units and provided low-cost housing for senior citizens. In addition, Reid's Valley View Manor, the Founders Home, the Walker Apartments and the Edison Apartments were also sponsored by Zion Baptist Church.

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

Zion Baptist Church website

One Hundred and Twenty-Two Years of Service: 1842-1964
Pamphlets f286 Z79
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, spoke at Zion Baptist Church in 1964 as part of the 122nd anniversary celebration. His visit is noted here, among numerous photographs of the church, church groups and the Booth family.   View catalog record   Request slip
Thirty-One Years of Ministry, 1952-1983
By L. Venchael Booth
Pamphlets f286.17714 B725
This stewardship report was presented by Rev. Booth to the congregation at a quarterly church meeting on April 11, 1984. It answers questions presented to the pastor about the church's membership, finances, leadership and housing ministry.   View catalog record   Request slip
Grand Opening and Dedication of the New Zion Baptist Church, June 25 through July 7, 1961: Zion through the Years
Pamphlets f286 Z79d
In addition to containing the program for the dedication of the new church on Glenwood Avenue in 1961, this item includes a history of the church and biographical information about Rev. Booth.   View catalog record   Request slip
Dedication of Reid's Valley View Manor
Pamphlets f361.75 Z79
This 1978 booklet contains information about Zion Baptist Church's housing programs: Reid's Valley View Manor, the Founder's Home and Shelton Gardens.
View catalog record   Request slip
Mortgage Burning
Pamphlets f286 Z79m
On September 23, 1979, Zion Baptist Church celebrated its mortgage burning. This pamphlet was issued in commemoration of this event. In addition to a history of the church and a statement from the pastor, it contains a photo directory of the church members.
View catalog record   Request slip
Grand Opening and Dedication, Zion Nursing Home, Inc., June 25, 1967
Pamphlets f362.16 Z79
The events leading up to the construction of the Zion Nursing Home are presented here. Also included are photos of each of the trustees on the nursing home's board.
View catalog record   Request slip
Testimonial Banquet Honoring the Reverend L. Venchael Booth: Friday, October 10, 1969
Pamphlets fB B725t
A detailed biographical sketch of Rev. Booth can be found here as well as several hymns written by him.      View catalog record   Request slip
Silver Anniversary, 1952-1977: Dr. L. Venchael Booth
Pamphlets fB B725v
This booklet recounts the many accomplishments of Rev. Booth during his first 25 years at Zion Baptist Church.   View catalog record   Request slip

Sources Used for Historical Sketch:
  • Zion through the Years. Pamphlets f286 Z79d, Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center.
  • Dedication of Reid's Valley View Manor. Pamphlets f361.75 Z79, Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center.
  • Mortgage Burning. Pamphlets f286 Z79m, Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center.
  • Silver Anniversary, 1952-1977: Dr. L. Venchael Booth. General B B725v, Cincinnati History Library and Archives, Cincinnati Museum Center.


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This online guide opened on February 10, 2004.