About 1872, the Rev. Brook G. White, an inspired catalyst, and the Rt. Rev. John Freeman Young, Bishop of the Diocese of Florida, organized and established a mission to serve the Black population. This mission became St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. With donations from the community, property was purchased at the corner of Union and Cedar (now Pearl) Streets, and a small frame church was erected. A rectory was also constructed with funds given by the wife of Fr. White.
On November 22, 1900, The Rt. Rev. Edwin G. Weed laid the cornerstone for a larger facility. The original frame church was moved back to allow construction of the new church in the original consecrated landmark. On May 3, 1901 the wooden frame church and the rectory were destroyed in the Great Jacksonville fire of 1901. A parishioner, Mamie Ewart Port, who lived nearby, rushed to the church and retrieved several of the brass pieces and communion vessels, some of which are in use today.