The first AME church west of the Allegheny Mountains, Bethel AME was organized in 1818 in a downtown home by three freed men, James Coleman, George Coleman, and Abraham Lewis, in an alley near the "Way House" between Third and Fourth Avenues near Smithfield Street. It housed the first school for blacks in Pittsburgh. The congregation moved to Wylie Avenue and Elm after the second church downtown was burned in the fire of 1845. A new structure was built in 1906. The church sponsored the Arnett Literary Society, a black literary club, and owned Lincoln Memorial Cemetery.
Original torn down for Civic Arena. New church built in 1959 in Middle Hill.