Hunter Street Baptist Church
Hunter Street Baptist was organized as the Compton Hill Mission, and then Compton Hill Baptist Church on January 6, 1907 at the Compton Hill School on 3rd Avenue West in Ensley. A year later, the congregation built their own church building at Hunter Street and 24th Street on the east edge of Ensley. The property was donated by a Mr Wildsmith, whose daughter Hunter gave both the street and the church its name.
The sanctuary building was constructed at a cost of $90,000. Begun in 1928, the Great Depression and World War II delayed its opening until January 1949, when 500 congregants marched from Hunter Street to 4th Court West. After the church moved, Hunter Street reverted to its original name of Eufaula Avenue. Over the next few years, membership tripled.
The 1952 building, opened on December 21 by pastor Charles Bowles, served as a Sunday School wing with seven nurseries, numerous classrooms and assembly rooms, a library and an air-conditioned chapel. Construction of the 1957 building was marred by a fatal accident when the steeple collapsed, killing an iron worker. A curtain was erected in front of the choir in 1928 to secure the modesty of the choir members who favored flapper-style skirts.
In the 1960s Hunter Street broadcast its Sunday services live on WAQY AM 1220. The church also had a girls' singing group called the Treblettes, which released two recordings on vinyl. Over the next two decades the church's membership declined as white families moved to Birmingham's suburbs.
The church originally met at Hoover Seventh Day Adventist Church, and on March 26, 1989 opened its worship center on John Hawkins Parkway. Since 1989, the church has had 8 building projects, including a larger worship center, a recreation center, a childrens' building, a student building, as well as the Legacy Park recreation complex in Bessemer. During expansion, one of the newly-built streets leading into the complex was named Hunter Street. As of 2009, the church has a membership of over 6,300.
- Ellaby, Liz (September 16, 2007) "Hunter Street Baptist looks back 50 years, then imagines future." The Birmingham News
- Ellaby, Liz (January 21, 2007) Hunter Street Baptist salutes 100 years of life." The Birmingham News
- Collins, Clarice Harrell, Lettie Johnson Riser and Arthur Lonzo Walker, Jr (1982) Forward in Faith: from Compton Hill Mission to Hunter Street Baptist Church, 1894-1971. Birmingham: Hunter Street Baptist Church.
- Winslett, Emily (March 21, 2004) "Faith on 42 Acres: A visit to the Hunter Street Baptist Church." Covering Religion: The Soul of the South. Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. - accessed January 21, 2007
- Hunter Street Baptist Church website