Palm Harbor's White Chapel changing hands

On Wednesday, March 20, local officials and dignitaries will join members of the Pinellas County Historic Preservation Board to celebrate the Rheba Sutton White Chapel’s recognition as a local historic site with the dedication of a state historic marker.

PALM HARBOR — Constructed of bricks and an old bell salvaged from a building destroyed by fire, congregants first gathered in 1925 at the single-story church now known as the Rheba Sutton White Chapel, 1190 Georgia Ave., Palm Harbor.

On Wednesday, March 20, at 11 a.m. local officials and dignitaries will join members of the Pinellas County Historic Preservation Board to celebrate the chapel’s recognition as a local historic site with the dedication of a state historic marker. The public is invited to attend.

The marker features a brief history of the chapel and recognizes the White Chapel’s inclusion in the Florida Historical Marker Program, which highlights important places, people and events that are significant to state history.

White Chapel’s marker is one of a series of state markers being installed across the county by the Pinellas County Historic Preservation Board in partnership with local municipalities and historical organizations. 

The history of the chapel site dates back to the earliest days of the Palm Harbor community, once home to the Florida Methodist College. Two failed resort hotels were repurposed for dormitories and classrooms, and the congregation met in the college’s auditorium until all were destroyed by a catastrophic fire in 1921. The remnants of these buildings became the Palm Harbor Methodist Church, which held services from 1925 until 1971.

The county purchased the property in 1999 and later built Harbor Hall as a separate reception and event facility. The historic church building was restored in 2003 with a grant from the Florida Division of Historical Resources.

In 2005, the chapel was renamed in honor of local preservationist Rheba Sutton White.

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