Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Hartford Memorial Baptist Church

The First Institutional Baptist Church of Detroit was established in 1917. It was the first African-American religious institution west of Woodward Avenue.

The founding pastor, Rev. Edgar Wendell Edwards left in 1920. He was replaced by Rev. Charles A. Hill. In the early 1920s, the name of the church was changed to Hartford Avenue Baptist Church, reflecting the present location of the congregation. Rev. Hill believed in community development and political participation. In the 1950s, the church heard Paul Robeson sing and W.E.B. Dubois lecture. The church was also opened to union organizers from the Ford Rouge Plant. After 48 years as pastor, Rev. Hill retired on his 75th birthday, April 28, 1968.

Rev. Charles Adams was appointed pastor in 1969. Under him, the congregation soon doubled and decided to relocate to the former Covenant Baptist Church on James Couzens Freeway. The name of the church was changed to Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in 1981.

The church building, designed by Merritt and Cole of Detroit, was constructed in 1945 and enlarged in 1962. Its nave and chapel windows were designed by Bernard Graff and fabricated in the 1950s and 1960s by the Willlet Stained Glass Studios of Philadelphia, PA. The stained glass at Hartford includes eleven windows in the sanctuary and ten windows in the Rev. Charles A. Hill Chapel.



Hartford Memorial Baptist Church Exterior, 1950s – 2014.003.886

Hartford Memorial Baptist Church Exterior, c.1984 – 2015.016.018

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