This description is based on a survey form prepared by Bill Pencek, Planning Assistant for the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation in 1976.
Leadenhall Baptist Church is a rectangular brick temple with simple Renaissance Revival detail. Its ground floor contains kitchen, lecture and Sunday School rooms, and the upper floor, with galleries, is reserved for church services. The original exterior wall surfaces have been covered with formstone on the main facade and stucco elsewheres, but the original appearance of the church is recorded in a circa 1885 engraving published in the Maryland Baptist History.
The building occupies a lot in the middle of the block; recent demolition of neighboring structures has left a large vacant lot on the church’s northern side. (Not included in this nomination, this lot does belong to the church.)The symmetrical front facade consists of a high projecting base with three, ground level, round arched entrances. The central entrance is the tallest. Each is filled with tinted glass and aluminum doors with semi-circular stained glass transoms. The center transom has the words Leadenhall Baptist Church incorporated in its design.Above the base, four pairs of pilasters rise to the gable end pediment. A large, round arched window opening in the central bay is filled with a pair of slim stained glass round arched windows with a circular stained glass window set in the spandrel.A round arched stained glass window is set in each side bay, with their lower ends recessed into the base of the facade. These windows illuminate the interior stairways which rise in both corners. A circular stained glass window is set in the center of thepediment.
The roof overhangs the gable end with a simple wooden cornice.Variegated formstone covers all the frontfacade, except where a concrete colored formstone is used along the lower portion of the base and door surrounds, in the rectangular recessions between the pilasters, and to outline the pediment and circularpediment window. The original rusticated brick base and brick cornelling which runs beneaththecornicearethusconcealed. Modernirongatessetinformstonecoveredbrick walls flank the facade, giving access to the narrow, brick-paved alley-ways at either side.Thesidesandrearofthestructurehavebeenstuccoed. The eight bays of the sides are marked by nine pilasters each. Rectangular stained glass windows set in segmental arched recesses in all of the side bays except for the first illuminate the church hall and galleries.
Two appendages are connected to the rear of the main church. The first contemporary to the church is a two-story stuccoed brick structure which provides vertical circulation behind the stage of the lecture room to the sides of the alter and baptismal poolabove. The second is a one-story concrete block addition of recent date, primarily containing classrooms and office space.There are several notable features of the expansive church interior. Stencilwork in blue, red and gold covers the plastered walls and flat ceiling. A lattice-type pattern, it has detailed borders around the edges and framing all openings. The stenciling was done by Robert J. Welsmann of Baltimore in 1962.
The original Renaissance-style aisle doors, organ pipe screen and baptismal pool remain in place. Slim cast-iron columns support the U-shaped gallery which retains the original pews. The long pews of the rear gallery are curved to fit the arc of the gallery steps. The stained glass windows were installed in the church in 1939. They are memorial windows, each one dedicated to one or several members of the early families of this church. The painting over the baptismal pool is a replacement of the original which was of Jesus surrounded by lambs. The lecture room is a large room under the church, at street level, which has been divided slightly with Sunday School rooms along one side. The room has slim cast-iron columns like those upstairs, and a pressed tin ceiling. Several pieces of original church furniture, including chairs and a lectern, are used here.
Leadenhall Baptist Church, a proposed City of Baltimore landmark, was built in 1873 for black Baptists of the Sharp-Leadenhall area by the Maryland Baptist Union Association. It is the second oldest church building in Baltimore which has been continuously occupiedby the same black congregation.
The neighboring Sharp-Leadenhall and Otterbein areas of South Baltimore are rich in black history. Many of the buildings which housed the people and institutions intimately associated with the advancement of blacks here have been demolished for newuses. Leadenhall Baptist is one of the survivors.
The church was designed, built and furnished by the firm of Joseph Thomas and Son, established 1820, manufacturers of building materials and church, bank and office furniture. By the time of the Civil War,the Thomas firm operated the largest steam turning mill works in the South at Park, Clay and Lexington Streets. The fire of 1873, which destroyed much of what is now the Retail District, began in the Thomas plant.
In 1873, the year in which the church was begun, the plant was relocated to Leadenhall and Montgomery Streets, just two blocks from the church. Among the other commissions which the Thomas family completed at about the same time were the City Council Chambers of the Baltimore City Hall (George A. Frederick, 1867-1875), and the interiors of Grace Methodist Episcopal Church (now Metropolitan United Methodist, Frank E. Davis, 1874) and the First English Lutheran Church (now New Shiloh Baptist Church, Frank E. Davis, 1874).
The Leadenhall church is a plain structure with generalized Renaissance detail. It is a highly functional composition which is relieved by round arched windows and graceful interior detail. The 900-member congregation,which is drawn from all parts of metropolitan Baltimore, is very active. The structure is interesting as an atypically restrained example of mid-Victorian ecclesiastical building.
Leadenhall Baptist Church was built in 1873 for Sharp-Leadenhall black Baptists by the Baptist Church Extension Society of Baltimore. It is the only black church in the Sharp-Leadenhall neighborhood, although there are some storefront churches in the neighborhood, and some black congregations which border Sharp-Leadenhall. Most notable is the Ebenezer A.M.E. Church on Montgomery Street. The only other black institution in Sharp-Leadenhall was Colored School #3, built c. 1872, which stood at the southwest corner of Howard and Montgomery Streets. Leadenhall Baptist is one of the oldest churches in Baltimore which was built for the use of black worshippers and is constructed in a stripped Renaissance mode.