Old Bethlehem Church 1879-1960

Object Details

Gertrude Jones
Mid-20th century
oil on canvas board
Frame: 18 3/4 × 14 13/16 × 1 5/8 in. (47.7 × 37.6 × 4.1 cm)
This painting lauds a landmark that stood for almost eighty years in Anacostia, a neighborhood in southeast Washington, DC. Artist Gertrude W. Jones depicts Bethlehem Baptist Church’s first sanctuary, built about five years after the congregation’s organization in 1872. In oil paint on canvas board, the stucco church rises in yellow tones above its gray foundation. Blue sky surrounds the symmetrical sanctuary. Above its dark brown doors are stained glass windows, including a rectangular panel bearing a cross. Lancet windows flank the similarly arched narthex on both sides. Next to the front steps is a black-and-white sign whose changeable letters spelled Sunday’s sermon title each week. The painting likely dates to the mid-1950s when the congregation broke ground for a new sanctuary that incorporated architectural elements of the original structure. Jones’s painting honors the historically African American church and its congregation, whose legacy lives on at same location on Anacostia’s main street, 2458 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE (formerly Nichols Avenue, SE) at its intersection with Howard Road.
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Anacostia Community Museum Collection
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