In 1859 Rev. Sampson White arrived as first ‘bona fide’ Negro minister/pastor at the First African Baptist Church. In 1861 the Civil War began in April and the First African Baptist Church was taken over by Union Soldiers Army, for an indefinite period, and used as a hospital and a recruiting station. Worship services went ‘underground’ for Colored and white churches.
In 1863 Rev. Madden, who had received a commission from the Executive Mansion (White House) as Union Chaplain, arrived as the new pastor at First African Baptist Church, replacing Rev. Sampson White who resigned. The Civil War ended two years later and all slaves were freed under the 13th Amendment. The Senior Choir was started and Poor Saints offering was instituted. The church attracted prominent members such as Dr. Harvey Johnson, who was ordained and became a prominent minister in Baltimore. Mr. George Seaton, a Deacon from First African Baptist, built two schools, one for Negro boys and one for Negro girls. He also served in the Virginia State Legislature and on the city council.
In the 1870s the Church changed its name from First Colored Baptist Church to Alfred Street Baptist Church. Tremendous growth was experienced with the new pastor and in 1880 the membership at Alfred Street reached a high of almost 800 members. A larger edifice was constructed, without foundation, between 1881 and 1884. This building stands today as the "old church". Rev. Madden passed in 1896 after 33 years as pastor.
Rev Alexander Truatt was called as the new pastor 1896. A basement was dug and a foyer was added in 1897. In 1913 Rev. Truatt resigned as pastor after 17 years. In 1914, Rev. W.H.R Powell became the new pastor. The Federal Government finally paid Alfred Street $900 for its use in the Civil War in 1915. In 1917 Rev. Powell built a parsonage but departed after five years later in 1920.
In 1920 Rev. Andrew Warren Adkins arrived as the new Pastor. His focus was on education and building strong relationships with the congregation. Alfred Street opened a “Lending Library” in the church with 1,600 volumes to serve the Colored community of Alexandria. In 1921 Rev. Adkins founded the Parker Gray High School and began teaching the first high school classes there; previously there were no high schools for Negroes in the city.