Sunday, July 16, 2017

Greater St. James A.M.E. Church Architect A.C. Evans

Greater St. James A.M.E. Church, Hammond, LA
Greater St. James A.M.E. Church was first established in 1867 by a newly freed slave Charles Daggs. Daggs fought for the Union Navy during the Civil War, he was shot in the back, falling into the Mississippi River, and picked up by the Union sailors. After he was discharged from the navy, he worshiped at New Orleans St. James A.M.E. church for three years before moving to Hammond. Daggs became the first pastor of the Hammond church.

Charles Daggs was a powerful voice in the African American community after the Civil War. He advocated strongly for the voting rights of freed slaves, and once protested and testified at the courthouse in Greenburg, that potential black voter was  being threatened by whites and the loss of their jobs and worse if they didn't  vote 'the right way." In 1923 the present site of the church, 311 East Michigan Street, was bought by two of the church members, Israel Carter and Albert Gibson, achieved by mortgaging their homes. The architect, Alexander Cornelius Evans, and the builder, John Noble, were also church members. The church construction was completed in 1925. The cornerstone of the church, include the names of Carter, Gibson, Evans, Nobles and Charles Daggs' son, Lewis.
Alexander Cornelius Evans
Greater St. James A.M.E. Architect

An obituary for A.C. Evans, the architect, on July 31st, 1936 issue of the Vindicator newspaper read as follows:

"Death claims a Good Colored citizen here. Death last Friday morning at one o'clock claimed A.C. Evans, one of the best known colored citizens, who has resided here for thirty years. Evans took much interest in church work. A.C. Evans was laid to rest in Brookhaven, Mississippi.

Evans was an advocate for education, three of his children were educators. I interviewed Evans granddaughter Debra Castille and great grandson Juan Rigo Castille. Debra's mother is the daughter of A. C. Evans. Her mother told her that the building in the Heat of the Night was built by her father A.C. Evans. 

Evans was born in 1875 to Charles and Eliza Jackson Evans in Brookhaven, Mississippi. He was married to Mattie Holloway. On his United States World War I Draft Registration Card 1917-1918 he was employed as a brick layer. According to the 1930 United States Census, Evans and his wife were the parents of nine children; Annette, Charles, Alvin, Mattie, Timothy, Roy, Ruth, Louise, and Edmund Evans. The family was living in Hammond, Louisiana.

Bibliographical Resouces

National Register of Historic Places Registration Form

Photo Courtesy: Juan Rigo Castille

1930 United States Census: Family Search