Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Category: Public Landmark
Location: 7th and West Main Streets
Bethel AME Church's congregation was established in 1833 as a religious, educational and social center for the early black community. The present red brick 78' by 48' building was designed and built by John Blythe, beginning in 1871. This was one of more than 100 buildings in town designed by this local architect. It is located near the site of an 1850s underground railroad stop. This is one of the oldest Gothic Revival style churches in the state built by a black congregation. Its steep pitched roof and tall pointed-arched windows that contain stained glass from c. 1915, further reflect this architectural style. Its original 100 foot high wood steeple was destroyed by lightning in 1987 and rebuilt in 1988. In the belfry hangs the town's first bell. It hung in an old carriage factory from 1837 to 1883, then at Second Baptist Church. In 1988 it was placed as a gift in Bethel AME.