Bethel A.M.E. Church receives national historic designation

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Palatka was recognized among six Florida properties recently added to the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. 

According to a news release from the Department of State, Bethel A.M.E. “is an excellent example of Romanesque revival architecture” … and “a local landmark.”

Pastor James McGriff learned of the church’s nomination in March. 

The church’s nomination was supported by the Palatka Historic Preservation Board and was followed by a review and unanimous approval from the state’s National Register of Historic Places review board. 

McGriff said Bethel A.M.E. once sat on the corner of Emmitt and Hotel streets. In 1869, the property at 719 Reid St. was purchased for $150. 

McGriff said the church’s congregation spent the years afterward building the church, including a tongue-in-groove ceiling that depicts crosses at every joint, stained glass windows and a tall tower that once held chimes that would ring at 6 p.m. every day. 

A stone on the north side of the building marks the church’s establishment in 1875. The news release said the church was built between 1905 and 1908 by the congregation and ministers J.S. Braswell and E.F. Williams. 

St. Augustine National Cemetery, the Arthur Milam House in Ponte Vedra Beach, the Alonzo “Jake Caither House in Tallahassee, Davie Woman’s Club meeting hall in Davie and Green Gables in Melbourne were also added to the national listing. 

Nominations for properties in Florida are submitted to the National Park Service through the state department’s Division of Historical Resources. According the news release, Florida has more than 1,700 listings on the National Register, including 291 historical districts and 172 archaeological sites. 

Palatka Daily News

1825 St. Johns Ave.
Palatka, FL 32177
(386) 312-5200


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