1401 Pine Street
First Calvary Baptist Church
Built in 2005, this is the fourth church building and second on this site associated with First Calvary Baptist Church. Organized in 1867 as Calvary Baptist Church by emancipated African Americans followers of Reverend Samuel Johnson, First Calvary Baptist Church was one of two Black congregations that separated from the white-led Baptist Church (now known as First Baptist) during Reconstruction. Its first place of worship was in a brush-arbor structure on the property of Celia Mann (1799-1867) at 1403 Richland Street.
From about 1875 until 1950, First Calvary Baptist Church occupied two successive church buildings at 1412 Richland Street across the street from its founding location. In 1947, the city of Columbia granted a building permit to the congregation to erect a rough stone church at the northwest corner of Washington and Pine streets valued at $150,000. That structure, completed by the end of 1949 and first used on January 22, 1950, was the church building of First Calvary Baptist Church for the next half century. Under the leadership of Reverend Maxie S. Gordon, pastor of the church from 1945 until his death in 1992, First Calvary Baptist Church played an integral role in the Civil Rights Movement in Columbia, with the NAACP hosting events at the church in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1965, Reverend Gordon was elected Vice President of the Columbia Ministerial Association, becoming the first person of color to hold office in that organization. Reverend Gordon was also instrumental in integrating Columbia’s police and fire departments as well as championing voter rights for the Black community. In 2005, the church building was replaced by the current structure, which was designed by architect Harvey Gantt, the student who desegregated Clemson University. The cornerstone from Richland Street, initialed C.B.C., was incorporated into its façade. The grave markers of the church’s first minister, Samuel Johnson, and his wife, Katherine, were also moved to the new church and can be seen in front, though their graves remain in their original location.