Community Cornerstones

COMMUNITY CORNERSTONES                                                                                                               African American Communities in Montgomery County, Maryland

Between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, 40 African American churches were constructed in Montgomery County.  In these cornerstones of their communities, generations of black families created their own spiritual, social and educational opportunities. 

Heritage Montgomery has produced a 60-minute documentary featuring five of these church communities: Community Cornerstones: African American Communities in Montgomery County, Maryland.

The church communities participating in the project include Emory Grove United Methodist Church in Gaithersburg, Jerusalem-Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church in Rockville, Pleasant View Historical Site in Darnestown, Sharp Street United Methodist Church in Sandy Spring, and St. Paul Community Church in Poolesville. 

African American Heritage Cookbook

Inspired by our 2014 documentary project, “Community Cornerstones: African American Communities in Montgomery County, Maryland,” Heritage Montgomery is producing an accompanying African American foodways cookbook.  

We are asking local communities to share their traditional recipes to be included in the cookbook and will be gathering related stories and photographs as well.

What is a heritage foodways recipe?  A heritage recipe is one that originated at least 50 years ago and likely contains one or more ingredient that comes from your cultural background. The recipe is usually passed down from generation to generation – a favorite recipe of your grandmother's, like the pie she made for every holiday, or the salad your mother made for picnics, or your go-to comfort food that you remember making as a child with your uncle. 

In my family, our heritage recipes are secret-recipe seafood gumbo, turkey pot pie, and hushpuppies. 

The bound cookbook will be included in Heritage Montgomery’s gift shop, but will also be available to participating communities to purchase at a significantly discounted rate to sell as a revenue stream for maintaining their historic churches and outbuildings.

We hope this cookbook will open the door for each church to think about/or continue preserving their histories and sites. Through this project, many revenue-generating programs can begin to grow – heritage cooking classes, a lecture series, or even a fundraiser cook-off between communities, just to name a few. 

If you would like to learn more about this project, or have African American heritage recipes, stories, and photos you would like to share, please call us at 301-515-0753 or email


African American Cookbook Interpretive Plan


(posted 11/18/15)

Community Cornerstones Brochure

Heritage Montgomery has also produced a 34-page Community Cornerstones brochure featuring the stories of 24 unique historic churches and their communities in Montgomery County. Use this brochure as a guide to draw your attention to sites you may pass every day, unaware of their meaningful histories.

Watch Full Interviews with Church Community Members:

Community Cornerstones Complete Interviews - Due to the time constraints of a 60-minute video, only portions of the extensive interviews with church community members could be included in the DVD.  We are happy to offer these interviews with elders from Emory Grove, Jerusalem-Mt. Pleasant, Pleasant View, Sharp Street & St. Paul in their entirety. 

To Purchase Community Cornerstones:

The 60-minute documentary DVD plus an hour-long music CD featuring performances by the churches' gospel choirs and ensembles are available in a boxed set for $30. To order, click here for Gift Shop page or call HM at 301-515-0753.

Credit Information:

Community Cornerstones DVD Extras Credit Information

Songs of Praise: The Choirs of Community Cornerstones Credit Information 

Research Resources for African American History

General Research

Montgomery County Cemetery Inventory:

Montgomery County Historical Society:

Maryland Historical Trust Library and Archives:

African American Resources at the Maryland State Archives:

The Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture

Resource Center at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum:

Historic Preservation

Research and Designation of Historic Properties:

Places from the Past: The Tradition of Gardez Bien in Montgomery County (inventory of historic properties in Montgomery County):

Maryland African American Heritage Preservation Program Grants:

African American Heritage Available Resources Available via Preservation Maryland:

African American Genealogy

African American Genealogy:

African American Genealogical Resource Page (Alabama State University):

Black Genealogy: