Craft brewery planned for historic Brooklyn church

December 3, 2017 19 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Abandoned in 1999, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church is one of the largest buildings still standing in Brooklyn, that date back to the Jacksonville neighborhood's days before demolition and gentrification. Now plans are underway by Bedopas LLC to convert the former sanctuary into one of the city's most interesting craft breweries.

Located at 301 Spruce Street, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church was built in 1955 by James Edwards Hutchins. Hutchins, one of the few black architects-builders during this era, was commissioned by the church under the leadership of Reverand William Hill. It served the Brooklyn community until 1999, when Reverend John Allen Newman relocated the congregation from the neighborhood to new Northside location near Gateway Town Center. Newman recently made national news when he married Donald Trump’s Apprentice reality-TV celebrity and self-proclaimed “Trumplican” Omarosa Manigault.

Interior image of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church by Dr. Timothy Gilmore

After quietly purchasing 11 acres throughout the neighborhood, Bedopas LLC appears to be ready to make the abandoned church the center of its first redevelopment project at the intersection of Spruce and Dora streets. Plans include the adaptive reuse of the church as a 5,600 square foot brewery with the intent to preserve the building's exterior. A new 5,000 square foot structure would be built to house a restaurant up to 224 seats at Chelsea and Dora streets. Renderings also illustrate space for a 150 seat beer garden and on-site beer production. Assisted by the Genesis Group (civil engineer), Cronk Duch Architects (architect), Landwise Design (landscape architect) and Urban Partners Construction (general contractor), conceptual development plans for the property were recently shared with the Downtown Development Review Board (DDRB).

Exterior image of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church by Dr. Timothy Gilmore

Here's a look at the conceptual development plan package shared with the DDRB. Let us know what you think!

Brewery Renderings

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Davis is a certified senior planner and graduate of Florida A&M University. He is the author of the award winning books “Reclaiming Jacksonville,” “Cohen Brothers: The Big Store” and “Images of Modern America: Jacksonville.” Davis has served with various organizations committed to improving urban communities, including the American Planning Association and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. A 2013 Next City Vanguard, Davis is the co-founder of Metro and — two websites dedicated to promoting fiscally sustainable communities — and Transform Jax, a tactical urbanist group. Contact Ennis at