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Rochester’s African Methodist Episcopal Church Zion

An empty church building stands on Favor Street in Rochester, New York. A for-sale sign stands in the yard. The grass is overgrown. A tall fence surrounds the property to fend off any would-be trespassers. This building was the third edifice of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church, originally built on this same location in 1830. The city wanted to build an expressway in the 1970s so the church membership moved to a different location less than a mile away.

There is nothing spectacular about the building’s architecture. Its significance lies in the people who spoke there. Rev. Thomas James, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, and Hester Jeffrey all spoke in its pulpit for abolition or women’s suffrage in the nineteenth century. Its significance also lies in the activities that occurred within its walls. Douglass published the first few issues of The North Star in its basement. James published The Rights of Man there. African American men, women, and children learned to read and survive as free people in its hallowed walls. The noteworthy people turn an ordinary building into one of great import in the City of Rochester.

Presentation Date

Spring 2017

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Jose R. Torre


Scholars Day


McNair, African American, Church, Religion, Abolition, Nineteenth Century, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, AME Zion, Rochester, New York, Reform Movements, Burned Over District, Rev. Thomas James, American Missionary Society, Amistad, Canajoharie, Austin Steward, Frederick Douglass, Lewis Tappan, New Bedford, Massachusetts, Mt. Hope Cemetery, Anti-Slavery, Rights of Man, Erie Canal, Lockport, Harriett Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Judge Ashley Sampson


African American Studies | Christian Denominations and Sects | Cultural History | History of Christianity | History of Religion | Museum Studies | Public History | United States History

Reverend Thomas James and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church