Mt. Prospect Baptist Church, originally known as First Baptist Church, Colored, was established in Rock Hill’s in 1883 by Reverend Thomas Samuel Gilmore. After meeting in homes and a brush arbor (roughed in shelter made of upright poles driven into the ground over which long poles were laid across the top and tied together in lattice fashion to serve as support for a primitive roof of brush or hay that served to protect the worshippers and seekers from the elements), and having two buildings, constructed in 1885 and 1900 destroyed by fire, the present brick sanctuary was completed in 1915. The building has historical recognition and significance in the National Register of Historic Places, for its early twentieth century architectural distinction and that it is relatively intact.
As stated in the National Register of Historic Places, “Mt. Prospect has had a significant impact on the development of the ethnic heritage of Rock Hill’s black community.” In 1887, the first joint convention (York County and Chester County Sunday Schools combined) was organized at Mt. Prospect Baptist Church in Rock Hill. On October 12, 1891, Rev. Dr. Mansel Phillip Hall, who served as the Baptist Joint Convention President for 11 years, founded Friendship Normal Industrial Institute. With the cooperation of Reverend T. S. Gilmore and his members of Mt. Prospect Baptist Church in Rock Hill, Friendship Institute, which later became Friendship Jr. College, was opened in the Old Mt. Prospect Baptist Church, with 11 students. Friendship Institute provided an education for black children before public schools were opened for blacks in Rock Hill, in 1921.
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