Photo credit: Donna Ware , 06/2000

Property Name: Mt. Tabor Methodist Episcopal Church
Date Listed: 4/12/2001
Inventory No.: AA-735
Location: St. Stephens Church Road, Chesterfield, Anne Arundel County

Description: Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church lies in the small rural community of Chesterfield in central Anne Arundel County. Constructed in 1893, the wood frame building is rectangular in plan, and features a bell tower projecting from the gable front. A smaller gable-roof wing, with flanking shed additions, extends from the rear (east) elevation of the church. The foundation originally consisted of brick piers, which were infilled with concrete block in 1956 when a full basement was constructed. Floor joists consist of massive logs with the bark still intact and hewn on one side. Exterior walls are covered with wood weatherboard siding, which was covered with asbestos shingles in the 1940s. In 1990 the shingles were removed and vinyl siding was added. The gable roof is covered with asphalt shingles. Rafter ends are exposed on the north and south elevations. The bell tower was added between 1923 and 1929 by Henry and John Queen. Originally the church had two entrances and the central aisle interior plan was established when the bell tower was added. The rear wing or apse, housing the choir loft, and the shed wing on the south elevation were also added during the same period. Between 1948 and 1955, another shed addition was built on the north elevation of the rear wing by Lawrence Hawkins, Sr., who also dug the cellar and built the cellar of the church. Facing west, the church is situated on an open knoll facing the road. Also on the property is a small two-story gable front frame building built in 1899. Known as the Mt. Tabor Good Samaritan Lodge, the building is set at a right angle to the road, facing the church. This arrangement symbolizes the more private function of the lodge in comparison to the open and welcoming position of the church. A cemetery meanders behind the lodge and the church, mostly located in the wooded area of the property and extending down the steep slopes of the knoll.

Significance: Built in 1893, the Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church is significant for its important contribution to the history and culture of African Americans in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and for the preservation of its architectural character. Formed in 1858, Mt. Tabor Church played a key role in the development of the African American community in the Chesterfield area of Anne Arundel County. Many descendants of the founders still live in the community today and have been instrumental in preserving the church and its history. Architecturally, Mt. Tabor Church is one of few African American churches in Anne Arundel County to retain its original character and integrity. It is also important for its setting and relationship to the Mt. Tabor Good Samaritan Lodge #59, both physically and historically. The African American church in America was pivotal in the struggle for equality. In many cases, construction of a separate church building, to establish and maintain their own place of worship, was the first tangible object in that struggle that free or enslaved African Americans could obtain. Churches were instrumental in the development of self-sufficient communities, establishment of educational opportunities, and the betterment of life. Mt. Tabor Church is symbolic of the role played by countless churches in America.




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