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Bethel Baptist Institutional Church dates back to 1838 as the first organized Baptist church in Jacksonville. During this early period, the congregation of Bethel Baptist Church included both white and black members. After the Civil War, white members went to court in an attempt to dispossess the black members. The court ruled in favor of the black members that resulted in a settlement in which the black members retained the name Bethel Baptist Church, as well as received a cash settlement.
Completed in 1904, from a design by New York architect M. H. Hubbard, the sanctuary built after the Great Fire of 1901 is dominated by an ornate bell tower and octagonal steeple that defines the main entry behind which is a central mansard roof with detailed cupola. Bethel Baptist was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 6, 1978, and was designated a local landmark on March 11, 1997.