Abyssinian Meeting House
73–75 Newbury Street
Portland, Cumberland County, Maine, 04101
Photo: License: Public Domain
The Abyssinian Meeting House is a historic church building in Portland, Maine. Built 1828-1831 by free African-Americans, it is Maine's oldest African-American church building, and the third oldest in the nation.
At the time, church pews were segregated and African-Americans were designated balcony seating or discouraged from attending services at all. African-Americans petitioned the state of Maine for incorporation of the Abyssinian Religious Society in 1828. The building became the Abyssinian Congregational Church.
The Abyssinian housed an active congregation for 86 years, from 1831 to 1917. In 1842, some black parishioners from the Fourth Congregational Church in Portland merged with the Abyssinian Religious Society to form the Abyssinian Congregational Church and Society.
The Reverend Amos Noé Freeman (1810–93) was the first full-time minister at the Abyssinian. His tenure was from 1841 to 1851 and was focused on employment, temperance, and abolishing slavery. As a known Underground Railroad agent, he used the building to host and organize anti-slavery speakers, Negro conventions and testimonies from runaway slaves.
It is one of the few buildings to survive the 1866 Great Fire of Portland, Maine. Local folklore includes stories about parishioners fighting to protect the building.
Abyssinian Meeting House Categories
Other Abyssinian Meeting House Resources