Bethel Baptist Institutional Church Cemetery
Founded in 1838, Bethel Baptist Institutional Church is the oldest Baptist congregation in Jacksonville. Originally established as an interracial congregation, in 1846 the church constructed a new brick sanctuary adjacent to a stream known as Brickyard Branch. Shortly after the church was completed, Deacon Elias G. Jaudon acquired additional property and donated it to the church for use as a burial ground. By 1859, the congregation had grown 250 black and 40 white members. In Spring 1861, the church and cemetery was abandoned in favor of a new location closer to town. During the Civil War, the churchyard became Camp Virginia anchored by the 2nd Florida Infantry. A few months later, it became the site of the Civil War’s Battle of Brick Church. Despite the history, during the 1940s and 1950s, the property was redeveloped into a complex of warehouses and industrial buildings at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and West Church Street.
Formerly of New York, Eugene A. Lindsley relocated to Florida in the late 1870s, operating a 16-acre farm two miles north of Jacksonville, devoted to tobacco, forage and food crops. In addition to the farm, Lindsley’s property included a La Rose Cigar Factory where he manufactured his crop into cigars. Also a lay minister, Lindsley established a small church and cemetery on his property. After the Great Fire of 1901, Lindsley’s property (present day New Springfield) was developed into a residential subdivision. When the Advent Christian Church was formed prior to his death in 1925, the church and cemetery were given to them. By the 1960s, the religious buildings had been replaced by residential structures. The remains of Lindsley’s Cemetery now serve as a driveway to a residence at 138 West 17th Street.
This 1927 Sanborn map depicts the location of the Advent Christian Church on West 17th Street in New Springfield. Photograph courtesy of the Jacksonville Public Library Special Collections Department.
This 1960 Sanborn map suggests that the Advent Christian Church and its associated religious facilities had been demolished by the time of the map’s publication. Photograph courtesy of the Jacksonville Public Library Special Collections Department.
Article by Ennis Davis, AICP of Modern Cities. Davis is a certified senior planner and graduate of Florida A&M University. He is the author of the award winning books “Reclaiming Jacksonville,” “Cohen Brothers: The Big Store” and “Images of Modern America: Jacksonville.” Davis has served with various organizations committed to improving urban communities, including the American Planning Association and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. A 2013 Next City Vanguard, Davis is the co-founder of Metro Jacksonville.com and ModernCities.com — two websites dedicated to promoting fiscally sustainable communities — and Transform Jax, a tactical urbanist group. Contact Ennis at email@example.com