gather and worship in Terra Cotta
The community has two historical churches, the Cedar Grove Baptist Church and Swift Street AME Zion Church. These churches are still in operation, and the Swift Street Zion church co-hosts the annual Terra Cotta Day Festival. The churches were not just places of worship, but central to the community. The congregation served as another extended family that brought the community together in love and sustained its members through good time and bad.
two churches, one people
After members of the Terra Cotta Community expressed a need for a Baptist church, residents founded Cedar Grove Church in 1923. The church had a congregation before a sanctuary. In the early days after founding, services were held in the Swift Street church on the first and third Sunday of the month. The Methodist services were held on the second and fourth Sunday, but most residents attended both services. The Boren family gave a tract of land to build a new church building in 1927, and Cedar Grove started independent services with a membership of seventy.
From a Resident
Christina Lyles Melvin sheds light on how important both churches were to her upbringing in Terra Cotta. From crinoline dresses and patent leather shoes of her childhood to funerals of former community members, the churches play a large role in the community.
Celebrations of Life
important life events at Cedar Grove and Swift Street
The churches in Terra Cotta hosted important life rituals for community members. Many Baptist residents recall the outdoor pool in which they were baptized, and how children would be welcomed into the spiritual community with song. Residents from both congregations have fond memories of revivals and weekend-long church anniversary celebrations. Big affairs like weddings and funerals were held at both churches, and to this day, large events bring together community members, past and present.
Funerals were not somber events, but an important way to celebrate someone’s life in Terra Cotta and an opportunity for community members to support one another. Originally there was no place for burials, and as residents aged, the need for a cemetery or graveyard became clear. W.C. Boren gave the community a plot of land for a cemetery across from Raleigh Cross Road Church, about 10 minutes away from the community. Graves date from before the Civil War to the present, and include many families and individuals from the Terra Cotta Community.
Edwina Monroe fondly recalls baptisms in Terra Cotta
Take the Tour
The Friends of Terra Cotta Cemetery host walking tours of the cemetery to learn about the history of the community, cemetery, and notable gravestones. Download a self-guided walking tour and explore the cemetery on your own!
Terra Cotta Cemetery
503 Nicholas Rd
Greensboro, NC 27409
Terra Cotta Cemetery
Terra Cotta Heritage Museum
Click below to study up on school life in Terra Cotta from the small Rosenwald school to integration across North Carolina public schools.
The legacy of Terra Cotta lives on today. Hear about the Terra Cotta Day Festival, and the Terra Cotta Heritage Foundation and Museum on the next page.