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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County, Florida — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Old St. Rita Colored Mission Church

 
 
Old St. Rita Colored Mission Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 3, 2012
1. Old St. Rita Colored Mission Church Marker
Inscription. The old St. Rita's Catholic Church Mission Building is one of the oldest surviving church buildings in the city. It was built in 1899 as the Sacred Heart Catholic Church of New Smyrna Beach, moved to this site in 1956 to serve the colored Catholics in the Westside Community, and was named St. Rita's Colored Mission Church. The building represents an important architectural landmark. The distinctive belfry, wood shingles in the gable end and pointed arch molding on the windows represent important architectural characteristics. After integration in 1969, the Diocese of Orlando converted the church into a neighborhood clinic and day care facility. The former church served that function until 1980, when the city condemned it in 1991. A committee of citizens, organized by Father Rudi Cleare of the Orlando Diocese, supported by Mark Rokowski, city planner and chaired by Mary Harrell, a retired educator and founder of the Black Heritage Festival, received state grants in 1997-98. These grants, coupled with private donations, funded the restorations, completed in 1999. The Orlando Diocese deeded the building and grounds to the Black Heritage Festival in 1999. The building currently serves as the Black Heritage Museum.

A Florida Heritage Site

 
Erected 2008 by the
Old St. Rita Colored Mission Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 3, 2012
2. Old St. Rita Colored Mission Church Marker
Black Heritage Festival of New Smyrna, Inc. and the Florida Department of State. (Marker Number F-632.)
 
Location. 29° 1.484′ N, 80° 55.975′ W. Marker is in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, in Volusia County. Marker is on North Duss Street south of Jefferson Street, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. The marker stands directly in front of the historic building. Marker is at or near this postal address: 314 North Duss Street, New Smyrna Beach FL 32168, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dr. Andrew Turnbull ( approx. 0.6 miles away); To the Past... ( approx. 0.6 miles away); Anniversary of Shelling by Union Gunboats ( approx. 0.7 miles away); Site of Sheldon's New Smyrna Hotel ( approx. 0.7 miles away); 1768 British Colony of New Smyrna ( approx. 0.7 miles away); Turnbull Canal ( approx. 0.7 miles away); The New Smyrna Odyssey ( approx. 0.8 miles away); Site of Old Stone Wharf ( approx. one mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New Smyrna Beach.
 
More about this marker. The marker is capped with the Florida Historical Marker Program logo.
 
Regarding Old St. Rita Colored Mission Church. St. Rita's Colored Catholic Mission became listed with the National
Old St. Rita Colored Mission Church image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 3, 2012
3. Old St. Rita Colored Mission Church
Register of Historic Places
in 2007 (# 07000280). The NRHP notes the style of the building as Late Gothic Revival.

As the Black Heritage Museum, the building is a Designated Local Landmark of the City of New Smyrna Beach, and a plaque on the building notes its additional status as a Historic Property by the city. The city's Donnadine Miller Memorial Historic Preservation Award was conferred upon the building in 2006.

The museum was renamed the Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum, in honor of its founder, in 2012.
 
Also see . . .  St. Rita's Colored Catholic Mission page on Wikipedia. (Submitted on June 13, 2012, by Glenn Sheffield of Tampa, Florida.)
 
Additional keywords. Segregation
 
Categories. African AmericansChurches, Etc.
 
Old St. Rita Colored Mission Church image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 3, 2012
4. Old St. Rita Colored Mission Church
Old St. Rita Colored Mission Church image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 3, 2012
5. Old St. Rita Colored Mission Church
Now the Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum
City Plaques image. Click for full size.
By AGS Media, June 3, 2012
6. City Plaques
Mounted on the building are two official honors from the City of New Smyrna Beach: a Historic Preservation Award plaque from 2006, and another plaque designating the ca. 1899 structure as a Historic Property.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 13, 2012, by Glenn Sheffield of Tampa, Florida. This page has been viewed 486 times since then and 33 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on June 13, 2012, by Glenn Sheffield of Tampa, Florida. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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