Arlington Co. public hearings planned for historic designation of Black church’s cemetery

Government leaders in Arlington County, Virginia, are moving ahead with further discussions to grant special recognition to a local Black church’s cemetery.

The Mount Salvation Baptist Church was founded in 1879 and has laid dozens of people to rest on their grounds since the early 20th century.

WTOP confirms the matter will be brought up during public hearings at the next Planning Commission session on Feb. 8 and will then go before the Arlington County Board at their next meeting on Feb. 20.

“If we don’t preserve it now, we risk losing the history,” County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said.

A recent staff report submitted to the County Board found the church has a deep history of serving people in multiple ways through the Halls Hill neighborhood.

“The church was a source of dances and socials across the late 1800’s right on through until much more recently,” says Ferranti.

To better preserve the property, the report recommends permanent fencing around the cemetery to control foot traffic.

“The big concern is with people sometimes walking in or past the cemetery, and we really need to make sure we protect that,” Ferranti said.

The report notes that Mount Salvation Baptist would join two other churches with this recognition.

Most of Lomax African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Cemetery and Calloway United Methodist Cemetery are preserved under a historic designation.

Ken Duffy

Ken Duffy is a reporter and anchor at WTOP with more than 20 years of experience. He has reported from major events like the 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, 2016 Election Night at Trump Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami.

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