Alfred Street Baptist Church is home to the oldest African American congregation in Alexandria, dating to the early 19th century. It has served as a prominent religious, educational, and cultural institution. In 1818, the congregation, then known as the Colored Baptist Society, began worship services here in the midst of the Bottoms, a free black neighborhood. By 1820 the church created its educational branch, providing religious and secular opportunities for both black children and adults. In 1855, free black craftsmen probably designed and built the brick church. Alterations to the building occurred in the 1880s and in 1994 the church constructed a new sanctuary.
Marker: E-124, Virginia Department of Historic Resources (2003)
After the Civil War
At the start of the Civil War, the U.S. Military Railroad (USMRR) took over the railroad car shops positioned at the corner of Duke and South Alfred streets, where the sanctuary of Alfred Street Baptist Church stands today.
Between November 1863 and February 1865, the USMRR personnel produced a 48-foot-long long coach for President Abraham Lincoln with a raised center roof and 12 windows on each side. The brown coach was embellished with some gold striping and the United States seal on its side.
This railroad car is believed to be the only one constructed by the federal government specifically for a president. However, the only time it transported Lincoln was after his assassination. The car was part of the funeral train that carried Lincoln’s body approximately 1,700 miles from Washington, D.C., to his hometown of Springfield, Illinois.
The car was purchased by Union Pacific the following year where it was used as an executive car. Later it was exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair and other venues before a Minneapolis man purchased it. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in 1911 when it caught fire just before it was to have been preserved.