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Pilgrim Baptist Church

This site has a dual significance as the location of the former Mount Zion Baptist Church, founded in 1890 as the first African American Baptist church in South Bend, and as the place where, in 1919, the South Bend branch of the NAACP was founded, The church was an outgrowth of the Olivet African Methodist Episcopal Church and was organized under the leadership of the Rev. W.M. Ridley. The Studebaker brothers donated the small wooden frame building to the congregation. The church facility was first located at the intersection of Main and Jefferson streets. In 1891, the church building moved to 116 North Birdsell St. In 1921, the foundation for the present sanctuary and basement was started. Shortly after the completion of the building in 1926, the church experienced a financial crisis caused by the Depression, reorganized and in 1935, officially changed its name to Pilgrim Baptist Church.