Saturday, April 9, 2016

St. Mary's African Methodist Episcopal Church - Armstrong, Florida

Last week we took a nice long walk on the Palatka-to-St. Augustine rail to trail in St. John's county. After reading the history of this rail road line and that it passed through the historic town of Armstrong I knew this would make an interesting walk.

Armstrong Historic Community

The town of Armstrong is one of  the oldest African American communities in St. John's county. The small community was settled about 1886 around a sawmill. By 1900 it was a thriving agricultural community shipping potatoes by rail. Timber and turpentine was another big industry for the small community.

While walking the trail you can see the location of the train depot, the Armstrong post-office and the Sand Cut Camp which was for railroad employees. You can also see the remains of St. Mary's AME Church.

St. Mary's African Methodist Episcopal Church

The original church was a wood frame building constructed in 1914. This building was destroyed by fire in 1915 and the members met for the next ten years in homes around town. The present church and bell tower was built in 1925. I can just imagine the excitement of the congregation when their new building was finished.

The picture on the sign shows the church in 1985.

This is what the church looks like now. If you peer closely you can just barely make out the remains. The woods and undergrowth are threatening to completely over take the abandoned building. 

(I could have gotten a better picture if I had gotten off the trail and tramped through the high grass and underbrush. But this is Florida and that means ticks! So, no way...I stay on the trail.)

Take Time to See the World Around You!

 I often wonder if any of the bicyclist that blew by us have ever taken the time to stop and peer off the trail to see the ruins of this tiny church. Walking is a nice way to  view the world around us at 3 miles per hour.

Get outside and take a slow walk to see what you can see!
Counties:St. Johns
Length:8.5 miles
Trail end points:FL 207 and CR 207 (Spuds) to (nearly) I-95 in Elkton

You can see other churches and cemeteries by checking out:


  1. I love a long slow walk. This was so interesting.

    1. Me too! It was an interesting little community. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Great bicycle tour.
    This trail is very interesting.
    Greetings from distant Polish.
    Monika B.

  3. It's wonderful that the church is remembered with the signs. A wooden church perhaps wouldn't last in Florida unless it received a lot of attention.

    1. So true. Between the humidity and the termites I'm not sure if my house is going to make it!

  4. Those rail trails are great. What an interesting bit of history you found along the way.

  5. The dreaded ticks. We have them here in Austria too. I gently remove them with by circling a sliver of wet soap around them, usually needs 10 minutes of this, and then crushing them between my thumbnails.

  6. Nice try but I would have fought off the ticks for a better photo. You never mentioned the mosquitoes, I got bitten to death in Wakulla Springs. Amazing how nature takes over so quickly in a place like that

    1. Ha ha Bill, You're braver than me! Mosquitoes aren't bad yet we haven't had as much rain lately but you're right they can be killers.


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