It’s no secret community turkey dinners to celebrate Thanksgiving have been around for some time. This advertisement, from November 25, 1899, highlights such a dinner at the second-oldest African American church remaining in Indianapolis – the Allen African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church.
The church was organized in the mid 1860’s, with the official conference of A.M.E. churches recognizing its existence in 1866. The church’s first leader, Reverend Whitten S. Lankford, was once a member of the Bethel A.M.E., Indianapolis’ oldest A.M.E. congregation. By the time this advertisement ran in the Indianapolis Recorder, Reverend Lankford had moved to Maryland to lead the Bethel A.M.E. there after his wife passed away in the mid-1870’s.
Allen A.M.E. was first located at the corner of Broadway and Pomeroy Streets, which is between 10th and 11th Streets and Broadway today. In 1929, the original building was replaced by what is now the current site at 627 E. 11th Street, at 11th and Broadway. The original building is now the Upper Room Church, and is located right across the alley (likely once named Pomeroy) from the current building.