A memorial marks the original site of the Bethel Baptist Church, founded about 1845 by former slave Elisha W. Green who served as its pastor for more than 30 years.
The original building burned in 1977. The memorial, located on Fourth Street, includes a platform permanently marking the spot where the church once stood. A skeletal framework, complete with replicas of doors and windows reminiscent of the original structure have been constructed on top of the platform, symbolizing the foundation of the church.
Green was born a slave around the year 1816 in Bourbon County. He fought for human rights and equality during his lifetime.
Green came to Mason County sometime near 1828. According to his book, Life of the Rev. Elisha W. Green, he came to May's Lick and lived with J. L. Kirk, who married his young mistress Jane P. Dobbyns...he lived there from 1828 to 1832. He was then sold in Washington at a sheriff's sale.
Green went on to purchase his freedom, and that of his family. He was a founder of the Kentucky Normal and Theological Institute, now the State University of Louisville; served 11 years moderator of the Mount Zion Baptist Association; five years moderator of the Consolidate Baptist Education Association.
Green died in 1893. His book, which was written by himself, was published by The Republican Printing Office in 1888, Maysville.
While the original building may have been destroyed the congregation of the church remains. Today’s Bethel Baptist Church is located on Forest Avenue.