The Mt. Gilboa Chapel at the NW intersection of Oella and Westchester
Avenue was solidly built of granite and marked with a stone reading"Mt. Gilboa Chapel 1859." This church is reportedly the only pre-civil
war black church still standing in the Baltimore Metropolitan area.
The chapel served the descendants of a community of slaves set free
in 1786 under the terms of the will of Mrs. Mary M. Williams, who
bequeathed to the Meeting of the Society of Friends of Baltimore
her thirteen Negroes and set aside additional property to be sold if
necessary to assure their freedom. In addition, she left ten acres of
the Mt. Gilboa tract to the thirteen.
When the Ellicott family made a deed partitioning the West IIchester
tract in 1835, there was reference to the east side of a road to be
reserved "for the use of the African Meeting." (Deeds, TK 260:27) The
1850 map by J .C. Sidney shows an earlier "Colored Meeting House"
on Oella Avenue, west of the route later taken by Westchester Avenue.
Possibly there was an earlier chapel of frame construction. By 1971, the
Mt. Gilboa congregation consisted of but eight members; the chapel
cemetery is overgrown with brush.
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