A while back I did a post on some of the excessively cool historic churches in Lexington and I bemoaned my stupidity and laziness in not taking a picture of one of my favorite churches in town, Asia Missionary Baptist Church. Well, as of today, I’m officially happy that I was so stupid and lazy because otherwise I wouldn’t have had a reason to stop by there on my way to Carrollton’s Pilgrimage when the sky was such a vivid blue the tan bricks and the white trim really pop and look even more amazing than they normally do.
First the bare facts: Asia M.B Church, an African American church on what I think of as Lexington’s Upper West Side, was begun in 1904 and finished in 1908. According to the cornerstone, the Contractor and Builder of the church was B.G. Olive. The Lexington website tells us that the church was organized back in the 1870s, merging two earlier congregations. A Sunday School wing was added at the rear in 1945, designed by pastor A.L. Hill and built by three men, probably from the congregation: O. Morgan & Co., James Ollie, and Rosevelt Ross.
Now for a little speculation because that’s all I’ve got left: B.G. Olive was probably an African American and I know nothing else that he built. It’s probably significant that the cornerstone says “Contractor and Builder” instead of just “Builder” or just “Architect”–that careful wording makes me think that Olive didn’t design the building, and the fact that there is no other name listed as architect makes me speculate that this church design is from a mail-order plan, just like we think the Carrollton Methodist Church might be. Here’s another opportunity for some industrious graduate student to do a thesis on a topic no one else has done.
The reason I assume that B.G. Olive was African American is that in my internet search, I keep turning up Milton L. Olive III, an African American Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam who is buried in Lexington. Is Milton Olive in the extended family of B.G. Olive? That seems reasonable. Our hypothetical graduate student will no doubt enlighten us, or maybe someone from the congregation or the community knows more about the history of this church and will help us out.
The building is listed on the National Register as part of the Lexington Historic District. I’ve never seen inside–is it as wonderful as the outside? I hope so. Enjoy!