St. Augustine’s Historic Churches

Cathedral Basilica

In the mid-’60s, St. Augustine saw serious racial problems. After King’s speech at the church, Blount said, people started to mobilize and lead marches and boycotts.

Having been the original St. Francis House in the mid-’80s, St. Paul’s is the largest black church in St. Johns County and is 127 years old. It is located at 85 M.L. King Ave.

Long before St. Paul’s was built, however, the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine stood high in the air at 38 Cathedral Place.

On Sept. 8, 1565, Spaniard Pedro Menendez and his men celebrated the first mass in St. Augustine.

Parts of the church building were destroyed a couple of times — once during Queen Anne’s War and another time when a fire damaged the structure. At one point, Henry Flagler provided financial assistance in rebuilding the church.

Flagler was also instrumental in helping rebuild Grace United Methodist Church, which originally sat on the corner of King and Cordova streets, where the Alcazar Hotel was built and the Lightner Museum now stands.

With a congregation over 100 years old, the new church was constructed at 8 Carrera St. in the late 1880s, sporting Spanish Renaissance style architecture and coquina. The Old Powder House Inn Bed and Breakfast is right next to the church on Cordova Street in St. Augustine.

Grace Methodist Church

Cooke said the church also hosted Florida’s first ordained Methodist woman, Wilma Davis, who served as an assistant pastor, living to be 102 years old before dying in 1992.

While the Methodists had their first ordained woman in the state, the Presbyterians had their first parish in Florida in 1824, when Memorial Presbyterian Church was built.

The church was unique also because of its Venetian Renaissance style architecture.

”This is the only Venetian-Renaissance style church in the United States,” said Jim Marth, business administrator at the church.

When the church was first built over 100 years ago on St. George Street, it was called First Presbyterian Church, and was dedicated in memory of Henry Flagler’s daughter, who died about a year before the church was built in 1890.

Now located at 36 Sevilla St., the church received another gift from Flagler in 1902: stained-glass windows that tell the Apostles’ Creed.