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How the Friends Saved the Pearl


It took an extraordinary collaboration to save The Pearl of Portsmouth. National, local, nonprofit, volunteer, religious, historical, educational and commercial partners all worked together. This, in brief is how the Friends of Pearl preserved an African American treasure.




READ: Portsmouth's First Black Congregation 
MUCH MORE Black History 

Preserving NH’s Only Historic Black Church Building

Capsule History

pearlpic01b.jpgThe Pearl of Portsmouth is the only historic African-American church structure in the state of New Hampshire. Built in 1868 as a Freewill Baptists Church, it was sold to the People's Baptist Church in 1915 and served the seacoast African-American community until the 1970s.

Why the Pearl Matters

The Pearl was the only Black-owned church in the state and one of only two Black churches in northern New England until the mid-twentieth century. It is remembered by one long-time member as, "the center of Black society in Portsmouth," and is emblematic of accomplishments and struggles of African-Americans in northern New England.

For more than seventy years, the Pearl Street Church served many African American charitable, social and political activities until the building was sold in 1984. It was here that Martin Luther King, Jr. preached in 1952, while still a divinity student at Boston University. The local chapter of the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) received its charter here in 1958.

CONTINUE Pearl Renovation

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News about Portsmouth from

Friday, February 23, 2018 
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