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Mount Pleasant Baptist Church

Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, Keene, VA

Name:  Mount Pleasant Baptist Church

Date:  2018

Image Number:  MJ08cdMJ01

Comments:  Mount Pleasant Baptist Church was founded in 1867.   According to Benjamin F. Yancey's diary, in 1911 Rev. Willie Morris was the minister serving Mt. Pleasant Church, and in the 1930's, Rev. Ward served as its minister.  This Mount Pleasant Church building sat near the end of Fortune Lane, an area marked on some maps as "Browntown." 

In 1963, a new Mount Pleasant Baptist Church building was constructed at 6456 Esmont Road near the intersection of Esmont Road and Fortune Lane in Keene.  Today Albemarle County's Office of Geographic Data Services labels the former church property as a cemetery lot.  No building stands there on the original property at the end of Fortune Lane, but rumor has it that the old church steps remain.

In a 2004 oral history interview at Scottsville Museum, the Agee sisters, Anna Agee Nelson and Virginia Agee Gray, recalled Mount Pleasant Baptist Church serving briefly as a school in the 1930s while their local school, Glendower, was torn down and a new school building constructed.  Anna and Virginia's father, Joseph Jasper Agee, also preached at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church.

Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Keene, 2018

The cemetery at the current Mount Pleasant Baptist Church location contains headstones from before the current church structure was built, i.e., from the late 1800s, as well as slate markers with no discernaible names and also modern day headstones.

Mount Pleasant Baptist Church
by Evelyn Edson, February 21, 2022

Virginia Agee Gray wrote up this brief history of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Keene, that she believes to be the oldest Black church in Southern Albemarle County.  After the Nat Turner revolt in 1931, Black people were not able to have their own churches but were relegated to the balconies of White churches.  So most local Black churches were founded after 1865.  But, as Mrs. Gray points out, Black churches had an earlier, secret history.

She writes, "My great-grandfather, Deacon James Agee, has related the story to us many times of how the black slaves from adjoining farms gathered at night at a log cabin where some slaves stayed, and they would turn down tin tubs to drown out some of the sounds of their singing and praying.  They came from as far off as Carters Bridge.

"They later built a bush arbor on Merrick's Farm in the woods and had their services there.  After slavery, the Merricks built a three-room building on their farm at Glendower and named it Glendower School.  This was a beautiful building with one large room, a stage, two smaller rooms, a cellar, two porches, a bell, and a bell tower.  The building was painted gray.

"Church was held in this building until the late 1800s, when Mr. and Mrs. Murfeird Fortune gave land to build a new church.  This consisted of one large building with pulpit, choir loft, and two beautiful chandeliers for light, and an entry hall.  The building was used until 1963.  It was abandoned because the county of Albemarle refused to fix the roads leading to the church.  Land was then purchased from Deacon and Mrs. A.R. Gray to build a new church.  Our present location in Keene, VA, is that church; see 2018 photos above.

"The plans for the new church were drawn up by the late Rev. W.D. Ward, Rev. J.J. Agee, and Rev. J.B. Monroe. They worked alongside many members of the church to construct the building."

Scottsville Museum wishes to thank Maxwell Johnson for his research and photographs on this Esmont community church! And thanks to Evelyn Edson for sharing this brief history of this historic church in Keene, authored by Virginia Agee Gray.

1)  Hallock, Jennifer ; Gardiner Hallock & Kristie Baynard.  National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Southern Albemarle Rural Historic District. February 2007.
2)  Kane, Emily, et al.  Interview of Anna Agee Nelson and Virginia Agee Gray.  Scottsville Museum, Scottsville, VA, 14 July 2004.
3)  "Summary Information."  Property Information for Parcel ID 12100-00-00-06700.  County of Albemarle, Virginia.
4)  "Mount Pleasant Baptist Church" by Virginia Agee Gray.

Copyright © 2018 by Scottsville Museum

Top Image Located On:  Capturing Our Heritage, CDMJ01

Bottom Image Located On:  Capturing Our Heritage, CDMJ01



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