“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Harrisburg in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)



— Sixth and Herr Streets —

Visionaries Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), May 31, 2019
1. Visionaries Marker
Inscription.  Because of the second State Capitol extension, Bethel AME Church purchased the Ridge Avenue Methodist Church building in 1953. (Sixth Street was formerly named Ridge Avenue). The Colored Wesleyan Burial Ground was located on Herr Street about fifty yards below the Ridge Avenue Methodist Church from 1853 - 1877, when it moved to Penbrook and renamed Lincoln Cemetery.

In 1953 the Bethel AME congregation, under the pastorage of Reverend James W. Mason, marched from the old church located at Briggs and Ash Streets to the Sixth and Herr Streets site. The former Ridge Avenue Church parsonage, located at Sixth and Boas Streets, was home of Bethel Trustees Marie and Charles Curtis.

From 1953 through 1995, many important changes occurred in Harrisburg. Public elementary schools were desegregated through the efforts of Dr. Joseph Randall of Bethel. Reverend Theodore S. Clements was a leader in the fight for Civil Rights. The population of the city dropped from a high of 90,000 to less than 50,000.

The Bethel AME Church was destroyed by fire in November, 1995.

Dr. Joseph Randall,
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as president of the Elks' Civil Liberties League, lead a five-year battle for the desegregation of schools in Harrisburg. The movement was begun by the Non-Partisan Civic League, which later became part of the Elks' group. The group addressed the Harrisburg School Board and requested that the separation of students based on race be ended.

The school board issued this order: "It shall be unlawful for any school director, superintendent or teacher to make divisions whatever on account of, or by reason of, the race or color of any pupil or scholar who may be in attendance upon, or seeking admission to, any public school maintained wholly or in part under the school laws of the commonwealth."

Dr. Randall commented, "I am glad we won. Who wouldn't be after a fight of five long years. At times our political parasites made the road rocky, but thank God we made it."

Community Building

Heading for Commonwealth Avenue? Rushing to work, school, a meeting, shopping, or engagement? Few who cross Forester Street traveling through the Capitol complex realize that they are on the Bethel Heritage Trail.

You're standing at the Northern gateway to the trail. An incredible list of leaders emerged from Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) congregation that once gathered here at 6th and Herr
Visionaries Marker [Reverse] image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), May 31, 2019
2. Visionaries Marker [Reverse]
Streets. They lived through tumultuous times for Central Pennsylvania.

Bethel AME's commitment and endurance has contributed to the character of Harrisburg's community and the quality of life for the descendants of African American citizens who gathered in their halls since 1834.

Bethel's 6th and Herr Street church was a crossroads of community. Indeed, the church's sanctuary, Sunday school, auditorium, meeting halls, and parish house hosted an impressive number of important social, fraternal and civil rights events until fire brought it down in 1995.

Bethel anchored the block that was once a vital Black business corridor. The Curtis Funeral Home, Jackson Hotel, and Jackson Barber Shop were all part of the tapestry that made up the Bethel Village.

From this vantage point, you can travel back in time. Your footsteps along Commonwealth Avenue to Aberdeen Street will guide you past four landmarks all standing on Bethel's past—the Bethel Heritage Trail.

► You are here, where where the 6th and Herr Street church once stood. (4)

The Judicial Center on Commonwealth Avenue is where the Briggs Street church once stood. (3)

Also on Commonwealth Avenue, the Capitol fountain was once the site of State
Visionaries Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), May 31, 2019
3. Visionaries Marker
Street church and the Forum building is near where the Short Street church once stood. (2)

The Amtrak station (Aberdeen Street), was near the site of the Meadow Lane church where Bethel was founded in 1834. (1)

North 6th Street

A. 1000—Curtis Funeral Home
B. 1002—Jackson Barber shop
C. 1004—Jackson House restaurant
D. 1006—Jackson Rooming house
E. 1008—House of Rowland-Reed Beauty Culture School
Far right—1032 Bethel AME Church

Erected by Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansChurches & ReligionCivil RightsEducation. In addition, it is included in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1953.
Location. 40° 16.138′ N, 76° 53.103′ W. Marker is in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in Dauphin County. Marker is at the intersection of North 6th Street and Herr Street, on the left when traveling north on North 6th Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1012 North 6th Street, Harrisburg PA 17102, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker
Visionaries Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), May 31, 2019
4. Visionaries Marker
. Tabernacle Baptist Church (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Agents of Change (approx. 0.2 miles away); Broad Street Market (approx. 0.2 miles away); Historic Harrisburg Resource Center (approx. 0.2 miles away); Historic Midtown Market District (approx. 0.2 miles away); Pennsylvania State Archives (approx. 0.2 miles away); C. Delores Tucker (approx. ¼ mile away); Pennsylvania's Liberty Bell Replica (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Harrisburg.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 1, 2019. It was originally submitted on June 1, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 298 times since then and 65 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 1, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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Nov. 29, 2023