This was the first African Baptist church founded in America. It was established in 1773 by George Leile, a slave whose master allowed him to preach to other slaves when they made visits to plantations along the Savannah River. Leile was granted his freedom some time before the Revolutionary War began, and in 1782 he sailed to Jamaica with the British. Andrew Bryan, another former slave who purchased his freedom, took over the congregation and built the first, simple wooden church in 1794. In 1832 the congregation purchased the newly vacated First Baptist Church on Franklin Square, rebuilding the current, relatively plain church over it brick by brick, completing it in 1859. It became the first brick building in Georgia to be owned by African Americans. The pews located in the balcony are original and were made by slaves. Before the Civil War, a hidden basement served as part of the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves.