The original location of the Saint Paul congregation, now known as The Spire. Photo by Scott Ball.

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The chapel known today simply as “The Spire” in the historic St. Paul Square is an event hall, commonly used for weddings and private events. Eastside community members, business owners, and local leaders congregated on its steps on Wednesday to unveil a historic plaque explaining the history behind the 19th century church.

Vice President of the Tax Increment Finance Zone Board 11 Mario Salas (left) looks a the plaque as it is unveiled by Pastor James Amerson (right). Photo by Scott Ball.
Vice President of the Tax Increment Finance Zone Board 11 Mario Salas (left) looks a the plaque as it is unveiled by Pastor James Amerson (right). Photo by Scott Ball.

The Spire was constructed in 1884 and its founding congregation is the oldest primarily African-American parish in San Antonio. Its original name was St. Paul Colored Methodist Church, common verbiage after the Civil War era.

Pastor James Amerson of the Saint Paul United Methodist Church shakes hand with Vice President of the Tax Increment Finance Zone Board 11, Mario Salas. Photo by Scott Ball.
Pastor James Amerson of the St. Paul United Methodist Church shakes hand with Vice President of the Tax Increment Finance Zone Board 11, Mario Salas. Photo by Scott Ball.

The legacy of this congregation lives on today, but it now meets three blocks east on Center Street. Saint Paul’s United Methodist Church relocated in 1922 to accommodate its growing African-American population on the city’s Eastside.

I asked St. Paul Pastor James Amerson what the plaque dedication meant to him and his congregation.

“It means our story will continue to be known. As things change we hope that people would know that we are a community of faith, of people that were looking for equity for African-Americans in San Antonio. (We) worship here and made an impact in the history of San Antonio,” Amerson said.

“I’m hoping that this is just beginning of some economic development and even some (progress on) how to make San Antonio work better for everybody. East San Antonio is not all African-American anymore so whoever resides in this area can come to the table and look out for the interest of everybody.”

*Top Image: The Spire is the original location of the St. Paul’s Methodist Church congregation. Photo by Scott Ball. 

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Scott Ball

Scott Ball is the Rivard Report's photo editor and a native San Antonian.