Originally built in 1868, The Pearl retains many of its distinctive features; the two story windows topped with stained glass, the curved staircase and balcony and the pressed tin ceiling. Renovations include new lighting and ceiling fans, handicapped accessible bathrooms, air conditioning and painting of the walls and ceiling.
The Pearl is the only historic African-American church structure in the state of New Hampshire.
Originally built as a Freewill Baptist Church, it was sold to the People's Baptist Church in 1915 and served the seacoast African-American community until the 1980's. During that period, it was the center of Black society in Portsmouth. It was here that Martin Luther King, Jr. preached in 1952, while still a divinity student at Boston University.
In 1984, the former church was converted to an upscale restaurant. In 2003, with the help of a grant from the state of New Hampshire, the belfry was restored and exterior work was completed. In 2005, under new ownership, the building has been renewed to take its place as a function hall appropriate to the historic city of Portsmouth.
For more information on the history of The Pearl, visit