St Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church
The church completed its sanctuary building, described then as, "the most modernly built church edifice for negro people in the Birmingham district," in 1926. It was designed by architect Wallace Rayfield. The exterior is clad in gray fieldstone up to the main floor level, with buff-colored brick above. Tall rectangular windows are framed by buttresses on the east and west sides. The hipped roof is concealed by a flat parapet, with just the top of a gable projecting above on the entrance facade where a wood-framed porch originally projected, partially covering the large external staircase which leads to the two pairs of entrance doors. The landing is flanked by two pillars, made from ACIPCO pipe sections, which originally held large lanterns.
The interior of the church features wainscoted plaster walls and exposed wood roof beams. The rear of the sanctuary has a balcony, and the choir loft is elevated behind the pulpit. Large globe-style light fixtures are original to the church. A new kitchen was constructed in the southern end of the basement in 1985. A parsonage, also designed by Rayfield and constructed in 1926 ,occupied part of the same large lot, east of the church.
The church is significant for its role during the civil rights movement. Pastor Andrew Thomas was an active member of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and hosted numerous mass meetings at St Luke, from the mid-1950s on. Ralph Abernathy and Martin Luther King Jr spoke at one such meeting on April 29, 1963, with King stating that a successful boycott of downtown stores would help, "make Birmingham a magic city, instead of a tragic city."
The original wood portico was replaced with a smaller steel-framed covering in 1965.
- Adams, Oscar W. (August 15, 1926) "What Negroes Are Doing." The Birmingham News
- Van West, Carroll (March 23, 2004) "[ St Luke AME Church]" National Register of Historic Places Registration Form