Gainesville pastor calls on community to renovate an historic Black church

Old Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Gainesville
Old Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Gainesville
Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 7:01 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -In 2021, the Old Mt. Carmel Baptist church was registered as a National Historic place and now, neighbors get to decide on how it’ll be renovated.

“And this is kind of like my hidden gem, but now it’s time for me to bring it into the forefront,” said Pastor Gerard Duncan.

He’s been partnering with the city of Gainesville, University of Florida architecture students and UF’s historic preservation program. The church is a monument in the Pleasant Street neighborhood as it once served as a safe haven for the Black community.

“He told me that there is nowhere he’s been that has the level of history that Gainesville has so he was very proud to pass it onto me and I feel blessed to walk into, well walk in those footsteps but to be passed on this torch to continue the legacy and the work.”

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Duncan got the church registered on the state and national level as a historic place. The building is tied to the Civil Rights movement, de-segregation initiatives and NAACP meetings. More than $2 million is planned for renovations.

“I want this to be a something that is a community shared space, your ideas, your input because I’m a young guy, I don’t know that civil rights history, legacy and all the things the people of this community experienced from this space so I want them to come out and contribute and we’re gonna have a great time.”

Saturday morning from 9 am until 1 pm is when residents can map out the future plans for this historic site in the first community redesign workshop.

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