This structure is a building of faith and fortitude. The Bethel AME Church has been a religious, social, and political center of Key West’s African American community. It is one of a handful of American Methodist Episcopal churches serving Bahama Village.
This is the second location for the church. The original church building was established in 1887 in the 700 block of Duval Street.
The wooden structure was demolished during the Hurricane of 1909. The building was replaced the following year and the spiritual life of the congregation resumed as normal.
The church suffered a second loss in 1922 when the building was lost to a questionable daytime fire. Some believe that the devastation was the work of the Ku Klux Klan. Historians believe that the fire may have been the cause of a nefarious business deal to convert the land to a developer’s plans for a more profitable use.
In 1923, reconstruction began at the present location on the corner of Duval and Truman Streets. This white masonry hall of worship has been the proud home of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church members ever since.