Heroden Baptist Church

Back in February, Malvaney ran this post talking about a new biography of architect W.A. Rayfield and included a list of buildings in Mississippi that he designed.  The last one on the list was Heroden Baptist Church in Vicksburg.

The church was built in in the 1920s, but was renovated in the 1930s (according to the cornerstone I found).  On a recent trip to the city, I stopped on Clay Street to take some pictures of the building to share:

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Categories: African American History, Churches, Cool Old Places, Vicksburg

18 replies

  1. This church is looking in better shape than I remember it from recent years. I have never been inside; only drove by.


  2. I figure looking at the interior is a good excuse for another trip to Vicksburg. Of course, so it touring other buildings I missed that trip too.


    • Looking at old buildings is always a good excuse for a road trip! I used to live in SoCal, a place where most of the areas couldn’t care less about good buildings, but didn’t realize how many truly wonderful ones I had missed right in my own backyard. Two years ago I went back to see friends and before I left I poured over my architectural guidebook for the area. While they were at work I took short drives to see some of the great buildings that were left and met some wonderful people who felt lucky to work in them. Even got some photos for a friend who was doing a piece on a CA architect who did our local Fox Theatre (recently restored) and got to see some other wonderful designs of his, and a church architect who did one of my favorites in SoCal did one here in Tucson as well. You know you’re truly bit by the architecture bug when you build your vacation around it!


  3. Was the steeple removed in the 1930’s?


  4. That could be, but I’ve also seen churches like this that just never had a steeple, just the towers. That remodeled date is certainly intriguing, and yet another reason why I think visiting a site is so important–just looking at a photo of the building, this detail would have been lost. Maybe we can find a picture of the original building down the road–that would answer many questions.


  5. I can’t really picture a steeple on this building. If there were more Gothic details in the towers, I might think that the steeple had once been in place, but the simplicity of the building makes me think that a steeple would have overwhelmed it had they included one.

    When I was taking photos and saw the cornerstone, I was hoping it would mention Rayfield, but I never found one for the original building – just the one for the remodel (complete with all the Trustees & Deacons, but no architect, builder or contractor information). I wonder what made them remodel after just 10 years in the building. Maybe it was just interior work?


    • Its like reading a book with no author listed or an unsigned painting. A lot of times I’ve found the architect listed in the newspaper clipping when the building was being commissioned (especially with churches) and/or when the building was finished. This was great info when I was doing a survey of an older downtown area. A lot of the articles in the earlier- to mid- 19th century would make a big deal of it and all the co’s involved would publish a “congratulations” note in the paper the day the business opened. Great advertising and fantastic for someone looking for builder, architect, etc info.


      • I also found out that at least with the Lutheran church, a lot of times they used a “church architect” who would do several different designs and when a committee was formed to decide on a building design they would look over different stock plans. Usually a local architect would oversee as the Supervising Architect. We have a church here that everyone I knew was convinced it was done by a local architect. I looked up the original article, found the actual architects name and spoke with the Lutheran churches librarian. The supervising architect did a lovely watercolor of the building that hangs in the offices and it is signed, “supervising architect”.


  6. More confusion…the plans that the author of the Rayfield book has found information on state the address of the church as 1000-1003 North Street. There never was a North Street, but there was a First North Street, just a few blocks away from Clay and Locust where the church is now. 1000 is the corner of First North and Jackson and appears to be a school now. According to a book about Reverend Edward P Jones who in 1906 was the minister, in 1915 his home and office was at 1415 First North Street. I know that the Mt. Heroden church was around before the Rayfield building was designed as there was a Baptist Convention held there, but I haven’t found the location. So, is the address on the plans the original lot that was to be used and they got the parcel on Clay? Or was there another building that was actually built in 1919 and the later date that is linked to renovations the date for this particular building? I will keep at it!


  7. Hmmm . . . . I would hate find out this isn’t actually the Rayfield building. But on the other hand, I would hate to perpetuate incorrect information, so I’m glad you’re digging into this a little more deeply to see where the truth lies. I’m headed over to Vicksburg tomorrow, and I’m going to check out that other address and see what I can see.


  8. Actually, looking at the map, I’ve been here before–that location is indeed a school–Grove Street School, which has been there since the late 1940s. I’m going to have to do a little more digging on this one to see. Maybe you’re right that the plans simply got built at another location. A mystery for sure.


  9. Here’s the scoop: Vicksburg Historical Society gives three dates for the beginning of the congregation, 1869, 1874, and 1877. The latter is the date the church uses as their anniversary. The original church was at 1100 Grove St where the school now stands. In 1900 the church moved to the basement of a building at its present location on Clay. The Sanborn maps shows this building as a one story in 1902, in 1907 it shows a 50′ spire, the same in 1913. In 1918 the church burned down and in 1919 the new church was built, assuming this is the Rayfield building. In 1925 the church does have a 50′ spire on the right hand side. Sometime later, not sure of date but given the renovations approximately 10 yrs after the original date, the spire disappears so that the two towers match. No positive answers on why the plans have the 1000-1003 North Street address since the historical society states that the closest thing would be one of the numbered North Streets, Clay and Locust the block where the church is, have always had those names. The minister in 1915 live on 1st North street and his info states that this was his home and office, so they may have used his address as contact info. Don’t you just love research? Hope this answers everyone’s questions!


  10. The 1100 Grove Street, original location of the church, is not the 1000-1003 1st North Street which was the school I was thinking of. Not sure why the address was listed on the plans as I realized that the ministers address was in the 1400 block. The church according to the historical society was never listed at that address. It is now a Warren County building. Perhaps this was a location they were looking into? Given the info from the historical society and the info on Rayfield, I would assume that the church is indeed his design. But I will try and get in touch with the church again just to confirm. Sorry for any confusion!


  11. Here’s a photo and article about this church in a 1908 book by Willis E. Mollison:


  12. See page 56 of
    The leading Afro-Americans of Vicksburg, Miss., their enterprises, churches, schools, lodges and societies; (1908) Author: Mollison, Willis E.


  13. These 1908 pictures certainly do seem to indicate that Rayfield’s 1919 plans had nothing to do with this building. The 1930 renovation date on the cornerstone must indicate when the previously clapboard building was stuccoed and some of the windows in the tower were covered. Thanks for pointing us to these images, and the text that goes with them–very helpful in answering some of our questions!



  1. W. A. Rayfield: Mt. Gilead Baptist Church « Preservation in Mississippi

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