St. John Baptist Church is a large frame building located
in the small rural African-American community of Dorseyville.
Built between 1871 and 1875, the church is significant because
it represents the earliest period of the African-American
community of Dorseyville.
The town of Dorseyville takes its
name from Reverend Bazile Dorsey, the first pastor of St.
John Church and the recognized founder of the community. Surrounded
by sugarcane plantations, the village developed in the years
immediately following the Civil War as a place for black agricultural
workers to live.
According to a cornerstone in the church,
St. John was organized in 1868 and incorporated on September
19, 1869. The community was sufficiently established to appear
on Mississippi River Commission maps of 1879-80. By 1893,
local children had a school, thanks to the efforts of St.
John Baptist Church under the leadership of Reverend Dorsey.
Although there is no written record of the founding of Dorseyville,
it seems likely that it grew up around St. John's, given the
early founding of the congregation and construction of the
church building. Expressing the high aspirations of newly
freed African-Americans, St. John's stands as a reminder of
the pivotal role of the church in the African-American communities.
St. John Baptist Church is a basilican plan building five
bays deep with a second story gallery on three sides of the
The basic form and appearance of St. John Baptist
Church is related to rural Greek Revival churches of the mid-19th
century, possessing a clapboarded structure with tall windows,
a partial entablature and a forward facing gable. However,
unlike this prototype, St. John has a three-stage entrance
tower at its center, which is largely Italianate in detailing.
Although the church has experienced some change over the years,
almost all modifications have been on the interior or to the
rear. The exterior looks much as it did when the building
St. John Baptist Church is located at 31925 LaCroix Rd. at
State Hwy. 1 in Dorseyville, eight miles south of Plaquemine.
The church is open for church services, and by appointment.
Contact Harriet Tillman at 225-687-4029. .