St. Benedict the Moor

St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church, St. Augustine, Florida
St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church, St. Augustine, Florida

St. Benedict the Moor is a mission Catholic Church in St. Augustine, Florida.  The Heritage sign in front of the 1911 church reads:

This block of property owned by the Catholic Church contains three historic buildings that embody an important part of African American heritage of St. Augustine.  It was part of “Yallaha” orange grove plantation before the Civil War and was conveyed to the church by the Dumas family in 1890.  The first building constructed in 1898 was the school, originally called St. Cecilia, later St. Benedict.  It is the oldest surviving brick schoolhouse in St. Augustine.  With a tower and original wraparound porch, it was a landmark of Victorian architecture.  It was the gift of Mother Katharine Drexel (1858-1955), a wealthy Philadelphia heiress who founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People and established more than 60 parochial schools around the country.  On October 1, 2000, Pope John Paul II named Mother Drexel a saint, and two St. Augustinians attended the canonization ceremony at the Vatican.  The Sisters of St. Joseph, a teaching order that was brought here in 1866, operated St. Benedict School.  They were involved in a celebrated civil rights case when, on Easter Sunday 1916, three of the nuns-sisters were arrested for violating a 1913 passed Florida law that made it a criminal offense for whites to teach in a black school.  They were released when a judge ruled the law did not apply to private schools.  After serving many generations of students (of several religions) from kindergarten through eighth grade, St. Benedict School was closed in 1964 when local Catholic schools were integrated.  St. Benedict the Moor Church, on the north end of the property was begun in 1909 and completed in 1911.  The church was named for a Sicilian friar (1526-1589) who was known as “The Holy Negro” for his charitable work and canonized in 1807.  The red brick rectory building was constructed in 1915, and for many years housed the Josephite Fathers out of Baltimore who pastored here.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited the rectory in 1964.”

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St. Mary’s Missionary Baptist

St. Mary's Missionary Baptist Church, St. Augustine, Florida
St. Mary’s Missionary Baptist Church, St. Augustine, Florida

Founded in 1875, St. Mary’s Missionary Baptist Church is in St. Augustine, Florida.  This Italian Gothic building was completed in 1937. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke here in 1964 before a sit-in at a local restaurant.

 

Old St. Paul’s

Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church (San Marco Preservation Hall), Jacksonville, Florida
Old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (San Marco Preservation Hall), Jacksonville, Florida

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was located a few miles away when it was built in 1888 in Jacksonville, Florida.  In 1977, it was donated to a city museum and moved by river barge to its current Fletcher Park location in the San Marco area of the city.  The interior features dark pine beaded board and the building was last renovated in 1994.  It’s now used regularly for weddings and other events.

Mt. Zion A.M.E.

Mt. Zion AME Church, Jacksonville, Florida
Mt. Zion AME Church, Jacksonville, Florida

Mount Zion A.M.E. Church is a Romanesque style building in downtown Jacksonville, Florida.  It was built in 1905 and features the original pipe organ and elaborate stained glass.  It’s included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Jacksonville, Florida
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Jacksonville, Florida

The Basilica of The Immaculate Conception is a Late Victorian Gothic church in downtown Jacksonville, Florida.  The first church was built of wood and dedicated in the mid 1800’s.  In 1901, the church was one of over 2300 buildings destroyed by the city’s “Great Fire”, though the large statue of Virgin Mary remained in place.

immaculate conception 1901
Immaculate Conception, 1901

Today’s Basilica was built in 1910 primarily of Kentucky limestone.  Stained glass windows imported from Germany also highlighted the new building, which was the tallest in Jacksonville at the time.  A more detailed history is included on the church’s website.  It’s also included on the National Register of Historic Places.

St. Cyprian’s Episcopal

St. Cyprian's Episcopal Church, Darien, Georgia
St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church, Darien, Georgia

The last of the Darien, Georgia churches is St. Cyprian’s Episcopal.  It was another church founded by former slaves, this time in the coastal area of southern Georgia.  It’s also fairly unique in that it was largely built of tabby  (see Woodbine Episcopal) when completed in 1876.  It’s affiliated with Darien’s St. Andrew’s Episcopal.

Springhill Methodist

Springhill Methodist Church, Thomas County, Georgia
Springhill Methodist Church, Thomas County, Georgia

Although the last regular service at Springhill Methodist Church in Thomas County, Georgia was held in the 1970’s, it’s still in good shape after a restoration a few years ago.  The old church was organized in 1823 and initially used a log building until this one was finished about a decade later.  The cemetery on the grounds has about a hundred graves.