Tulsa Time Warp: Rebuilding Mount Zion
Less than two months after the first service was held, Mount Zion Baptist Church was destroyed during the Tulsa Race Massacre.
The Rev. J.H. Dotson, left, helps with construction of the north entrance of Mount Zion Baptist Church, circa 1948. Dotson, pastor from 1937-1957, could be found on site every day of the church’s construction, either helping or providing encouragement.
Composite by Patrick McNicholas
After seven years of fundraising and five years of construction, the first service at Mount Zion Baptist Church, 419 N. Elgin Ave., was April 4, 1921. It would be destroyed less than two months later during the Tulsa Race Massacre.
Due to a “riot” clause in its insurance plan, the church was not reimbursed for the loss. The debt — and whether the church was responsible to repay it — split the congregation in the following years.
In 1937, under new leadership, a roof was added to the remaining walls of the first floor, finally returning the congregation home.
In 1942 — 21 years after the massacre — the church officially cleared itself of the debt. Members were determined to rebuild Mount Zion bigger and better.
By 1948 construction on the late Gothic Revival-style church, designed by church members and architects W.S. and J.C. Latimer, was underway.
Historic image courtesy Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society and Museum