Huntington has numerous old buildings and historic places that allow us all to see how it became what it is today. I cover a lot of these locations but have never wrote about a church. I find church architecture very interesting because even though there are different kinds they all resemble each other through structural characteristics that are so recognizable.
The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest church of its kind. When I first saw it I didn't think it was still in use but it is actually one of only two African churches that still hold services on the North Shore. That is pretty significant considering its been a part of the Huntington community for well over a century. With Methodist roots their system is focused on simple gospel that helps members enhance social, spiritual and physical development.
Founded in 1843 by brickyard workers, the church played an important part in the African American community. The earliest records were sadly destroyed in a fire so the only remains of the founders are in the church yard behind the building. They have been buried there along with their families. Eleven of these headstones still exist but studies show there are more beyond the vicinity.
In 1844 the AME Church bought the property from which it stands from the Huntington Methodist Church. The building we see today was built by Rev. George A. Lonzo and is a representation of colonial and gothic design. Its gable roof and clapboard and shingle structure express the simple characteristics of the building. However, don't miss out on the stained glass windows that spread around the church. With these, as well as the cross on the front pediment, the gothic undertones come shining through.
I love how there are two staircases. It gives it a sense of community which was a big deal at the time. Being able to join together to pray, sing and thank God brought many African Americans joy and happiness. The church still has its original woodwork, tin ceiling and altars which helps its visitors and members to not only appreciate its history but to share their memories with a future generation.