History

Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church was established in 1880 by a group led by the Rev. Robert Parker Rumley. After 17 years of service, Rumley turned the church over to the Rev. Jacob Robert Nelson. In 1919, under Nelson’s leadership, Miller and Sons Construction Co. erected the impressive building where the church is now located, at 47 Eagle St. on The Block, Asheville’s historically African-American business district. Born into slavery, Miller and Sons founder James Vester Miller went on to become a master mason who built many of Asheville’s iconic downtown buildings. Miller’s granddaughter, photographer Andrea Clarke, still lives in Asheville. — A.W.

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