Dickerson Chapel

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Dickerson Chapel

If buildings could talk, the Dickerson’s Chapel would have quite a collection of stories to tell about horrific injustices, joyful worship, and generations of life events in Hillsborough’s Black community.

Built in 1790, the building that is now Dickerson’s Chapel AME Church started as a county courthouse. In 1845, after it was relocated to its present site, it became a church and a school for free Black children. In 1866, it became Dickerson’s Chapel.

The Honorable Beverly Scarlett, who was Orange County’s first Black judge, shared several stories from the time when the building served as a courthouse. For example, historical records show that judges removed the children of free Black people from their families and bound them into involuntary “apprenticeships” with white families.

After the building became a church, it served its members and its community in a variety of ways – or worship to a place to organize in the struggle for civil rights.

Myrtle Mayo remembers the warm welcome she received from the church membership when she joined in 1955. When asked, she proudly points out the stained-glass church windows that bear the names of congregational families, many of whom were and are pillars in the community.

“All those windows are special. They are the people who have made great contributions to the church… I won’t call out all of the names but there’s Collinses, there’s Chaviouses, there’s Warners, and there’s Faucette’s. As you go in and out, you will see all of the names. I had the opportunity to meet almost all of these people that you see here on these windows, and they helped to enrich my life.”

– Myrtle Mayo