Special Event

Historical Walk at Mt. Zion AME Church

sponsored by Tredyffrin Township Historical Commission


Tredyffrin Township Historical Commission

Historical Walking Tour at Mt. Zion AME Church, Berwyn, PA
Sunday, 28 April 2024, guided walking tours between 1 and 3 PM

Short History

Mt. Zion AME Church, Devon, is the first recorded African American congregation of any denomination, and the oldest continuous African Methodist Episcopal Church on the Main Line. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2015.

The church dates to 1849 or '50, when a group of African American Baptists in what is now Devon began meeting in their homes. In 1856, trustees of the church purchased the current church site for $50 from Jonathan and Mary Ann Lewis. Lewis was a member of the anti-slavery Wilberforce Society, founded in 1837 by Rev. Leonard Fletcher, pastor of the nearby Baptist Church in the Great Valley.

Construction of the church began with the laying of its cornerstone in 1861, but work ceased when many of its men left to serve in the Civil War. (It was finally finished about 1880.) In the church cemetery are the graves of 21 veterans of the U.S. Colored Troops (U.S.C.T.)

Mt. Zion was a center of African American resistance to Tredyffrin and Easttown townships' attempt to segregate their schools in 1932. The "Berwyn School Fight" lasted two years, during which church members and other residents boycotted the schools and endured fines and arrest because of their allegedly "truant" children. The case paved the way for the 1935 Pennsylvania Equal Rights Bill that made segregation unconstitutional, and was a precedent for the U.S. Supreme Court's 1954 decision Brown v. Board of Education.

The Tour

The tour comprised four parts: the graveyard, the historic church building, the Pa. Historical Marker commemorating the "Berwyn School Fight," and light refreshments in the new church.


Page last updated: 2024-05-01 at 13:02 EDT
Copyright © 2006-2024 Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society. All rights reserved.
Permission is given to make copies for personal use only.
All other uses require written permission of the Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society.