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Mount Bethel Institutional Baptist Church

Updated: Jul 6, 2019

700 South Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

Mount Bethel Institutional Baptist Church 700 South Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

Founded in 1885, Mount Bethel's congregation initially worshiped on Fremont Avenue in a black neighborhood of Old Daytona known as Silver Hill. A few years later, the church moved to Church Street (now Marion Street). The church's first permanent structure on South Street in Waycross was erected during the 1900s. The current Mount Bethel, built in 1921,is an elaborate Late Gothic Revival style church featuring a steeply pitch, front - facing gable roof and two corner towers.

The building is constructed of rough faced concrete block, which adds to its Gothic appearance as does the side corner wall buttresses and lancet windows. Mount Bethel is Daytona's oldest Baptist church, is the oldest church in Waycross and traditionally has one of Daytona's largest black congregations. Its primary founder and first pastor was Joseph Brook Hankerson, who was elected Daytona's first African - American councilman in 1898.

The renowned theologian and native Daytonan Howard Thurman was a member of Mount Bethel, as was Yvonne Scarlett-Golden, the first African-American mayor of Daytona Beach. From Mount Bethel's congregation grew several other Baptist churches, including Mount Zion and Shiloh Missionary.

Recently Mount Bethel has gone public about damage that few in the community really knew or were clear about. Sadly, they never pleaded their case to the Historic Preservation Board, nor to staff who knows how to apply to the state for funds.

The Black Heritage Historic District may not have local protection, causing problems for funding. The church might be protected, but someone would need to research minutes from the Historic Board for the past decade.

There doesn't appear to be an individual listing for it on the National Register, but it is listed as a contributing, significant structure for the National District:

Southwest Daytona Beach Black Heritage District (added 1997 - Volusia County - #97000457) Also known as Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard Historic District; See Also Roughly bounded by Foote Court, South St., Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd., and the FEC RR tracks. , Daytona Beach (1000 acres, 259 buildings, 3 structures)

Historic Significance:

Architecture/Engineering, Event

Architectural Style:

Late 19th And 20th Century Revivals, Bungalow/Craftsman

Area of Significance:

Community Planning And Development, Architecture, Black

Period of Significance:

1925-1949, 1900-1924, 1875-1899, 1850-1874


Private , Local

Historic Function:

Commerce/Trade, Domestic, Education, Government, Religion, Social

Historic Sub-function:

Multiple Dwelling, Religious Structure, Single Dwelling, Specialty Store

Current Function:

Commerce/Trade, Domestic, Government, Religion, Social

Current Sub-function:

Correctional Facility, Meeting Hall, Religious Structure, Single Dwelling, Specialty Store

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