Museum Trail – 1897 Kadesh A.M.E. Zion Church

Kadesh A.M.E. Zion Church

119 East Gale Street


The story of the Kadesh A.M.E. Zion Church is really two stories.  One, the 1897 edifice that still stands in Edenton.  The other is the story of three generations of black carpenters, most members of the Badham family.
Kadesh A.M.E. Zion Church

Kadesh A.M.E. Zion Church

The Church: Its earliest roots go to 1857 when it was established as part of the Methodist Sycamore Chapel in a structure no longer standing at Oakum and Church Streets.

Twenty-six years later, 1870,, their first church was built on the East Gale Street.

Twenty seven years later, 1897, the congregation had grown and moved into this  beautifully appointed and spacious sanctuary seating for 400.  It complemented The Edenton Normal and Industrial School they had built two years earlier.  Graduates of that school and members of that church were among the most educated and important contributors to not just Edenton but to North Carolina and the nation.
Kadesh stained glass windows before Hurricane Isabelle

Kadesh stained glass windows before Hurricane Isabel

The Gothic Revival style church was  built by Hannibal Badham Jr, a member of the famous Edenton Badham family of carpenters.

The Badhams: The Badham family of carpenters, among the most prominent builders in late 19th century Edenton, included at least three generations:
  • Miles Badham I (ca. 1811-1870s),
  • Hannibal Badham, Sr. (1845-1918),
  • Hannibal Badham, Jr. (1879-1941), and Miles Badham II (1877-1925).

Their lives and work were researched and discussed by Thomas R. Butchko in his seminal work Edenton: An Architectural Portrait.

By 1870, when the first census after the Civil War was taken, there were several Badham family members living in Edenton. In that year, black house carpenter, Miles Badham I, aged about 59, was listed as head of a household that included his wife, Mary, 58, and two apprentices, Aaron and Allen Badham, as well as a girl, Susan, 16, who was in school. Although he could not read or write, Badham owned $1,000 in real estate and evidently conveyed his skills as well as his property to his descendants.

His son, Hannibal Badham, Sr. (1845-1918), and Hannibal’s son, Hannibal, Jr. (1879-1941), became house carpenters, while Hannibal’s son Miles II (1877-1925) became a carpenter for the railroad. The family is regarded as being among Edenton’s leading builders in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Organ & choir loft of Kadesh Church

Original organ of Kadesh Church

Pre-Isabelle Sanctuary of Kadesh Church

Pre-Isabel Sanctuary of Kadesh Church

Hannibal Badham, Sr., is also thought to have built other community buildings. The Badhams also built residences, including their own homes. These are located on East Gale and East Church streets, some on land inherited from Miles Badham I. Most striking is the ornate Hannibal Badham, Jr. House (ca. 1900), which Hannibal Badham, Sr., built for his son in the Queen Anne style popular at the time.

Hannibal Badham, Jr.'s home, built by his father

Hannibal Badham, Jr.’s home, built by his father

A Chowan Herald article by Rebecca Bunch in 2013 asked the question: “Is historic Edenton church endangered? Maybe.”

“A church steeped in Edenton history is on its way to becoming one of America’s 11 most endangered historic places. If that happens, Kadesh A.M.E. Zion. could be on it’s way toward rehabilitation.
The Edenton Town Council unanimously passed a March 12 resolution that supports the nomination of the 1897 church — which sustained heavy damage during Hurricane Isabel in 2003 — to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of America’s 11 most endangered historic places.
The National Trust began maintaining the list in 1988 and has so far identified 242 sites that warrant saving.Edenton Councilman Sambo Dixon, who is a member of the National Trust’s Advisory Council, made the request for the resolution.
“Kadesh is in jeopardy of not being restored,” Dixon said.Dixon said that if successful the effort to add Kadesh to the list could bring new resources to the table that could result in the completion of restoration work at the church.“It’s an enormous honor to get on that list,” Dixon added.Members of the congregation continue to worship together at a new location on Badham Road, but they still consider the old Kadesh church on East Gale Street their spiritual home, Dixon said.
He said that while the historic church needs significant work before it can resume its original purpose, “They (members) hope and feel that (the Badham Road site) is a temporary 
location. Anything we can do to help them come back home, we need to do.”Councilman Bob Quinn agreed that the congregation would benefit from the church’s restoration. So, too, he said, would the town.“It would mean a tremendous amount to the community,” Quinn said.
In 2011, the Rev. Edna Lawrence, who was serving as pastor at Kadesh when the hurricane struck, said that the 65-member congregation would have had to raise $800,000 to fund the necessary repairs in two phases.Phase I of the project that cost about $267,000 resulted in the stabilization of the church’s foundation as well as repairs to the roof and other parts of the building where water leaks were a problem.
The congregation was able to pay for that work with the aid of insurance funds and a $200,000 bank loan.Despite subsequent fundraisers over the years, church members have not been able to raise the additional funds necessary to restore the church’s interior.”

Visit and learn more about other sites on the Edenton Museum Trail:

(1) Barker House

(2) Old Colonial Wharf

(3) Joseph Hewes & 1778 Cannons

(4) Hugh Williamson Monument

(5) 1905 Edenton Teapot

(6) 1767 Chowan County Courthouse (no QR code on pedestal sign)

(7) Old Jail

(8) Oldest House in North Carolina

(9) Cotton Mill Village

(10) 1800/1827 James Iredell House (no QR code on pedestal sign)

(11) Kadesh Church

(12) 1736 St. Paul’s Church

(13) 1758 Cupola House 

(14) Josephine Leary Building 

(15) 1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse (no QR code on pedestal sign)