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.”
St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church, St. Augustine, Florida
St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church, St. Augustine, 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.
Choir, Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church
Stained Glass, Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church
Historic Mt. Zion AME Church, Jacksonville, Florida
Stairs leading to the balcony of Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church
I’m still trying to add the last of the Georgia churches I’ve photographed so far for the project, so I’ll include several miscellaneous sites here.
New Ogeechee Missionary Baptist Church is a historic rural church on the outskirts of Savannah, Georgia. Listed now on the National Register of Historic Places, it was built in 1893 for the African-American population of the area. Although the congregation’s numbers are relatively small today, it’s still an active church. It’s located not far from another historic church included previously (St. Bartholomew Episcopal).
Located on the edge of Savannah’s downtown historic district, Greater St. James Temple, A.M.E. church has an interesting style.
Another Savannah church on the National Register, Nicholsonville Baptist dates from 1890. The original members of the church were former slaves from a plantation on St. Catherines Island in Liberty County. There’s a slightly older church on the property (below), but it is in a more deteriorated condition.
Asbury African Methodist Episcopal Church is in rural Screven County and another that I stopped quickly as I passed through the area. There’s a placard on the right side of the church that dates the congregation to 1910.
I was in Omaha, Georgia just before the state line with Alabama and visited a few churches in the small town. The Baptist and Methodist churches were included previously, but this one on 5th Avenue had no name.
Immanuel House of Prayer is in Darien, Georgia. Originally it was known as Grace Baptist Church and is from the early 20th century (circa 1915).
Kershaw, South Carolina was one of the wealthiest towns in the state in the mid 1800’s. It was originally a gathering place for the farmers in the area but was largely destroyed towards the end of the Civil War. Another rebuilding phase occurred in the early 1900’s and included a pair of churches shown here. I passed through last Sunday afternoon and was invited inside both churches so I was able to get a shot of the interiors.
Unity Baptist Church was organized in 1909 and is on East Sumter Street. The Gothic Revival church building was completed a year later and was the second black church in town. The interior of the church has many original features including the coved ceiling. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
Interior, Unity Baptist Church
Clinton Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church, Kershaw South Carolina
The oldest African-American congregation in town is Clinton Chapel A.M.E. Zion. The church was named for a former slave who was an A.M.E. minister. The church below was built in 1909. Included as part of the Lancaster County entry, it’s also on the National Register.
I’ve stopped by a few churches in Jacksonville, Florida which I don’t have much information so I’ll bundle them together here. Most are African American churches built in a similar architectural style in the downtown area. The church above on Van Buren Street was built in 1914 and seems to be known as Little Rock Baptist Church, though the sign in front of the church shows “Solid Rock Missionary Baptist Church”.
St. Matthews Methodist Episcopal Church founded their church in 1871 and this building above was completed in 1903. The interior of the brick building was remodeled in 1945 and today is known as Greater Hill’s Temple in honor of a Bishop of their church.
Triumph Church on Franklin Street seems to have been built circa 1902.
Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in in the Brooklyn section of town and has been abandoned since 1999. It was built by a local architect James Hutchins in 1955, but has a similar style of the earlier churches above.
This tiny church is on Phillips Highway a few miles from downtown. It had an interesting look so I took a photo, but I have nothing indicating its age.
New Hope African Methodist Episcopal, Guyton, Georgia (Effingham County)
Guyton is a small town in Georgia (local Guyton history link), but there are several churches from approximately the same time period which are still active. Listed on the National Register, New Home AME Church (above) was built in 1885 and is located in an older black neighborhood in Guyton known as Sugar Hill. It formed, like many similar churches in the south, just after the Civil War. It’s a rectangular wood framed building with a gabled roof. A choir room was added in the rear during the 1920s.
Originally known as Antioch Christian Church when organized toward the end of the 19th century. The Pine Street church changed its name to Guyton Christian in 1900.
Guyton United Methodist Church is an antebellum building dating from before the Civil War (1848). It also served as an auxiliary hospital during the Civil War. A more complete history is described at the church website.