Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church

Roanoke, VA





Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, is located at 301 Patton Ave. nw, Roanoke, Virginia.  The street was Fifth Ave. before many streets were renamed many years ago. It is an Afro-American church with a stained glass window behind the pulpit that is a memorial to General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, and depicts "Let us Cross the River and Rest in the Shade of the Trees."   

 In 1905, Rev. L.L. Downing (1863-1937), the pastor of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, had this window installed because Thomas J. Jackson taught the Reverend Downing’s parents to read and write and instructed them in the ways of the Presbyterian Church.  Thomas J. Jackson was a VMI professor in Lexington, Virginia before the Civil War, and was a staunch Presbyterian.

 Dr. Lylburn O. Downing, a son of the Reverend Downing and a 1912 graduate of Howard University Medical School, practiced medicine in Roanoke.  The dedication on July 21, 1905 was attended by a vast crowd of white and black Roanokers. In his speech that day, Rev. Downey counseled the Negros (the term used at that period), "to be as chivalrous and honest as you were in the days of slavery and to uplift yourselves.  Those who want to get ahead, will find the white man his best friend.  There is no reason why the races cannot work in harmony."

When the wooden church burned in 1950s, the window was not damaged, and a brick church was erected on the site.  The "Jackson Window" was again installed behind the pulpit.  Much of the financial help to rebuild the church came from white friends and business leaders in the City. 


Betty Ann Rice



Barnes, Raymond P., History of the City of Roanoke, ©1968, Commonwealth Press, Radford, VA



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