The African Zion Baptist Church is a historic Baptist church at 4104 Malden Drive in Malden, West Virginia. It is considered the mother church of African-American Baptists in West Virginia, many of whom migrated there after the American Civil War and Reconstruction. Before then, Malden held West Virginia’s largest concentration of slaves, numbering more than 1,500 and tending the town’s booming salt works. General Lewis Ruffner gave the land, money, and materials for construction of the one-room church building. Services began there in 1872 and continued well into the 20th century. The church’s most famous congregant was educator Booker T. Washington, who had come as a boy to the Kanawha Valley when freed from slavery. After graduation from Hampton Normal Institute in Virginia in 1876, Washington returned to live in Malden, teaching Sunday school at African Zion before finally leaving for Tuskegee with his wife years later. Until his death in 1915, Washington kept his membership in the church.
The one-story frame structure of the church is built atop a stone foundation and has a gable roof topped by a wooden bell tower. African Zion’s architectural style is typical for a Southern-style church: simple, unadorned, even Spartan. Essentially unchanged since the 1870s, the wood-frame church is a rectangular, front gable design with two tall windows with segmental arch hoods on each side. A short steeple crowns the roof above the front door. The African Zion Baptist Church was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and today there are even special ceremonies still held inside.
If you are around the area, checking out the African Zion Baptist Church is a must. It is a piece of state history, and helps tell the story of the nation’s past when slavery was permitted and the African American people fought for their freedom. The town of Malden and the church is just 15 minutes away from the Holiday Inn. We sit right off of Interstate 64, so traveling will be a breeze. We can offer you a multitude of amenities to help you relax and stay fresh during you stay. Guests love grabbing a hot meal at the in-house Mosa Café & Grille, then going to chill-out in our indoor pool and hot tub facility. Our hotel provides weekend entertainment such as the Comedy Zone, where comedians from all over the country come in and provide a hilarious show. We hope to see you with us. Be sure and talk to our front desk staff if you have any questions during your stay.
- 15 Minutes Away From Holiday Inn
- Historic Church
- Booker T. Washington’s Former Church
- Provides Unique History of State and Nation