Cultural Heritage Tours

A project of the ETHNIC HERITAGE CENTER

Lower Dixwell Tour

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

31 Sperry Street

(former)

31 Sperry Street. Courtesy Greater New Haven African American Historical Society.

The Bethel A.M.E. Church had its origins in 1837, when followers of the A.M.E.’s late founder, Bishop Richard Allen, organized the First African Methodist Episcopal Society. Reverend Richard Allen had set the church on a path of growth in New England “by sending preachers to cities that had a population of one hundred or more Negroes.” New Haven was one of those cities.

The First African Methodist Episcopal Society Church was built on a lot on Webster St. Reverend Eli N. Hall became the first pastor of Bethel-New Haven in 1838. The congregation later met in Lyman Barn on Whalley Avenue near Garden Street, and then constructed a church here on Sperry Street in 1882. It was completely remodeled in its current Gothic Revival style in 1929.

The Bethel congregation moved to 255 Goffe Street in 1975. Since then, the Sperry Street building has housed several congregations, including the Shaw Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church, Holy Nation Tabernacle (Pentecostal), and since 2011, the Springs of Life-Giving Water Church.

  • Text source courtesy History of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1837–Present, A.M. Matthew Haynes.

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