Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bula Baptist Mission, A Farewell

The front of the church.

Last Saturday a small group of us met at the old Bula Baptist Mission Church in Copeland, Florida to sketch this historical structure before it meets the demolition crew.  Bula Mission was built in the 1940’s of the cypress wood that was being logged out of the nearby cypress domes and strands.  You may remember that an earlier post reported my visit to a different church in Copeland last March, which is still standing over on Church Street. 
Bula Baptist Mission was built at a time when racial segregation was the norm in the South; it was a church for Black services, while the Whites attended the church down the road.  When segregation ended, Bula Baptist Mission closed, and all races attended the Baptist Church on Church Street.  Reverend Gilmore, the pastor of the Baptist Church, told us during our visit in March that their church was one of the first fully integrated churches in the county during the early 1960’s, with a congregation of Blacks, Whites, Native Americans, and Hispanics.

Our sketching group was kept small, out of respect for the surrounding residential neighborhood, and we met early to avoid the Florida heat and humidity.  I had a chance to do two small plein air paintings, one in my new Strathmore watercolor sketchbook, and one in my Pentalic Nature Sketch pad.  Both worked well with the Daniel Smith travel set I created.  The Strathmore paper has great lifting properties, so I could clean up a few mis-strokes later. 
Bula Baptist Mission,  as seen from the road.

The church itself used to be a one-room structure, with small bathrooms added later just off the front entryway.  At one time, it was hoped that the building could be restored and used for community events, but the cost is too great.  I believe the current plan is to salvage as much as possible, then demolish it.  If anyone has any information to add, please comment below, or email me and I’ll update this post.  I love old structures, and feel sad that this one won’t be around for much longer.

It was a lovely summer's day, although quite hot as the sun crept up to its zenith.  The church is overgrown with lush vegetation and there were butterflies everywhere: swallowtails, sulphurs, and gulf fritillaries.  Two red-shouldered hawks patrolled the sky overhead.  Painting bliss!  

It was an honor to be able to spend a few hours painting the Bula Baptist Mission, and I thank Karen Relish and Marya Repko for making it possible.  Thank you too, for visiting!