Photo credit: Julie Darsie , 08/2003

Property Name: Ridgley Methodist Episcopal Church
Date Listed: 3/13/2005
Inventory No.: PG:72-5
Location: 8900, Central Avenue (MD 214), Largo, Prince Georges County

Description: Ridgley Methodist Episcopal Church, constructed in 1921, is a one-story, three-bay frame church on the north side of Central Avenue in Landover. The gable-front church consists of a 1921 block on the south and a small 1940s extension on the north. The church was moved from its original location to its current location in 1990. The corners of the original concrete foundation of the 1921 church remain in place a few yards southwest of the current church. Ridgley Methodist Episcopal Church has a 1990 poured concrete foundation, wood drop siding with cornerboards, and a 2002 asphalt-shingle roof with open eaves and fascia boards. A parged chimney stack rises from the east slope of the roof. The main entry to the church is through a small front-gable vestibule that projects from the south elevation of the church. The vestibule has double, wood, 5-panel doors with recent hardware. The east and west walls of the vestibule each have a window. The 1921 section of the church has peaked window openings. The double-hung stained-glass windows date to the 1940s and have diamond and square patterns in red, blue, gold, turquoise, and green. Each window is a memorial to a past member of the church. The 1940s section of the church has flat double-hung windows, some with stained-glass inserts. The interior of the church was restored after the building was moved in 1990. The interior features an original yellow pine floor, original beadboard wainscoting, window surrounds from 1990, and original oak pews, altar rail, and chairs. The pews, altar rail, and chairs feature a pointed-arch, Gothic Revival motif. The upper walls and ceiling are drywall and date to 2002 when the church suffered a fire that destroyed the original plaster. A pastor's study has been partitioned off in the northwest corner of the church. A drywalled chimney stack, where the original wood stove was located, projects from the east wall. The cemetery, which dates to 1892, occupies the west end of the property. The approximately one-half acre cemetery retains its rural feeling. It has about 20 gravestones arranged in orderly rows and grouped by families. The stones date from the 1910s to the 1940s. Most of the stones are hand carved. Many feature a carved flower and vine motif.

Significance: Ridgley Methodist Episcopal Church is significant for its association with the end of reconstruction in Prince George's County (1872-1896), the institution of government-sanctioned segregation in Prince George's County (1896-1916), and the African American experience of suburban settlement in Prince George's County (1896-1964). These themes are set forth in the Multiple Property Documentation for African American Historic Resources in Prince George's County. Ridgley Methodist Episcopal Church, founded in 1871, now includes a cemetery begun in 1892 and a church constructed in 1921. The church was the spiritual and social center of the formerly rural African American farming community of Ridgley in the area now generally known as Landover. The property is an outstanding example of the form of a rural, African American church, and its cemetery holds the potential to yield information about traditional African American religious beliefs and practices. Ridgley Methodist Episcopal Church derives its primary significance from its association with the African American community. Although it was moved to a different location within the church property, it remains within its original immediate setting and environment. Ridgley Methodist Episcopal Church is one of only a handful of African American church buildings in Prince George's County that retains its original rural form. The church is one of only two remaining community buildings associated with the African American community of Ridgley. (The other is Ridgley School, constructed in 1927). The Church illustrates how rural forms and models persisted even as Prince George's County became increasingly surburban in character.




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