Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea – Palm Beach, Florida - Atlas Obscura
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Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea

The oldest house of worship in Palm Beach has a wonderful tropical garden. 


In response to the need for a church in the ever-growing South Florida in the late 1880s, Reverend Joseph N. Mulford, a rector at Christ Church in Troy, New York, volunteered to start a mission in South Florida. In 1889, four communicants gathered on the shores of Lake Worth to establish an Episcopal mission.

The episcopal church was originally built on the shores of Lake Worth out of old packing boxes. As the population in South Florida grew, a larger building was built in 1894 along the Intracoastal Waterway. Mulford’s wife named the sanctuary the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, which means The House of Healing-by-the-Sea, after the gracious leader Bethesda. At the time, the oil and railroad tycoon Heery Flagler, who also attended the church, extended his railroad to the Palm Beaches, making the church even more popular.

The Gothic-style church includes an organ, courtyard, and a wonderful tropical garden. The year 2014 marked its 125th anniversary, and to this day, Bethesda-by-the-Sea is a large part of the Palm Beach community.

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