Historic Markers Across Florida

Old St. Rita Colored Mission Church

Marker ID: FLHM F-632
Location: Intersection of N Duss St at Jefferson St, New Smyrna Beach, FL
County: Volusia
Coordinates: N 29° 01.485    W 080° 55.973
  29.02475    -80.93288333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WM6W3V


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.

The Black Heritage Festival of New Smyrna, Inc. and the Florida Department of State 2008


City: New Smyrna Beach, FL