The First Baptist Church of Selma was organized in 1842. The congregation erected their first permanent building in 1850 at the corner of Church Street and Alabama Avenue. After the Battle of Selma, First Baptist was the only church open for Sunday services. Union officers attended these services during the Federal occupation of Selma. In 1866, African-American Deacon, Alex Goldsby, asked and received permission to open Selma’s first school for African-American youth in the church’s basement. The church later contributed $2,000 to help the black members start their own church on St. Phillips Street.
On April 5, 1900, First Baptist purchased a lot on the corner of Dallas Avenue and Lauderdale Street. On May 3, 1901, a contract was made for the construction of the present church building. The first service in the new church was held in September 1904. This High Victorian Gothic style building is constructed with large, rough-cut stones. It contains a massive four-story tower that’s topped with a conical roof. The tower is enhanced with Gargoyles and tracery. Stained glass windows from the old church were saved and installed in the new church. The church also contains a window and a magnificent tile mosaic designed by Selma artist, Carla Weaver Parrish, and made by Tiffany Company of New York. The pulpit furniture is also Gothic style.
This church is a contributing property to Selma’s “Old Town Historic District” that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is located at the intersection of Dallas Avenue and Lauderdale Street at downtown Selma (GPS coordinates 32.409614,-87.021807).
Sources: 1) www.fbcselma.org; 2) NRHP Document for Selma’s “Old Town Historic District”; 3) Historic Churches of Selma, Prior to 1925.
Photographs courtesy of RuralSWAlabama.