Step into the sanctuary of the African Meeting House in Boston, and you will walk on the same ancient floorboards where Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison and other prominent abolitionists railed against slavery in the 19th century, and where free black men gathered to shape the famed 54th Massachusetts Civil War regiment.
After a painstaking, $9 million restoration, the nation's oldest black church just reopened to the public. Beverly Morgan-Welch, executive director of the Museum of African American History, who has spent more than a decade spearheading the project, calls the building the nation's most important African American historic landmark.
"This space has the echo of so many of the greats of their time ... who were trying to figure out a way to end slavery," says Morgan-Welch, executive director of the Museum of African American History.
Built in 1806 at a cost of $7,700, the meeting house sits on a quiet side street in Boston's upscale Beacon Hill neighborhood, in the shadow of the Massachusetts Statehouse. It's a short stroll from Faneuil Hall. Guided tours are available Monday-Saturday -- admission is $5 ($3 ages 13-17), details at maah.org.