Gothic Revival Architecture in Palm Beach

Lorea Thomson
Posted by Lorea Thomson
Updated on
Published in Arts & Culture

This year marks the 132nd anniversary of the oldest existing congregation in Palm Beach. The church building is an example of the gothic revival style and surrounds a courtyard. In the late 1880’s the need for a church in ever expanding South Florida area was increasing.  Reverend Joseph N. Mulford, a pastor at Christ Church in New York, volunteered to start a mission in South Florida. In 1889, they congregated on the shores of Lake Worth to establish an Episcopal mission.

Initially, Bethesda by the Sea, the church began in the Little Red Schoolhouse in January 1889. The preliminary church was built of mostly wood from old packing boxes washed up from the beach with service beginning in April that year. There was little access to the church aside from by boat.

As the population in South Florida grew, a larger building was built in the spring of 1895 along the Intracoastal Waterway. At the time, the oil and railroad tycoon Henry Flagler, who also attended the church, extended his railroad to the Palm Beaches, making the church even more popular.

A larger new lot was sought in the following years with a rectory being built in 1890. The Gothic-revival style church includes an impressive organ, courtyard, and a magnificent tropical garden. Gothic Revival draws features from the original Gothic style, including decorative patterns, finials, lancet windows, hood moulds and label stops. By the mid-19th century. The current President of the United States and his wife, Donald and Melania Trump were married in the church on January 22, 2005.

Location of Bethesda by the Sea is 141 South County Road, Palm Beach, Florida 33480.



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