The congregation of Bethel A.M.E. Church organized in 1866 and moved several times before constructing this church on Sumter Street in 1921. During the 1960s, Bethel A.M.E. served as a location for civil rights meetings and rallies.
The monumental Romanesque Revival brick church was designed by John Anderson Lankford, one of the first registered black architects in the United States and the official architect of the A.M.E. Church. He traveled throughout the South and West designing churches and overseeing construction.
Lankford saw the church as the center of the black community, so he designed each church with a social hall, as well as a sanctuary. The congregation has since moved to a new home on Woodrow Street.