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The Gainsboro History Project

Saint Paul’s United Methodist Church

St. Paul’s, located at 502 Gilmer Avenue, NW, is the only historically Black United Methodist church in Roanoke. The church evolved from a Sunday School and prayer group organized by a group of laymen including Henry Langhorne, Allen Hawkins, Tobias Preston, Thomas Toliver, and Charles Bristol. In 1880 it became a congregation of the Methodist Episcopal church, with Rev. Thomas White selected as the first pastor.

The congregation first met in a stone building that had formerly been a gristmill. Its next home was at the corner of Henry and High Streets. In 1915 the congregation purchased what had formerly been the St. James Methodist Episcopal church on Gilmer Avenue. Over the years, the congregation has expanded and improved the church.

St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. Courtesy of Roanoke Public Libraries


Church to burn Mortgage today. (1945, April 22). Gainsboro Branch Library Vertical Files, Roanoke, VA, United States.

Kennedy, J. (2005, September 21). Church with rich past strives for bright future. The Roanoke Times.

Shareef, R. (1996). The Roanoke Valley’s African American Heritage. The Donning Company Publishers.