James Vester Miller
Born a Slave
James Vester Miller Was Born April 21, 1858 In Rutherfordton, N.C. He Came To Asheville As A Young Man, With Practically No Formal Training But With A Firm Understanding Of What He Wanted To Do In Life, And He Would Do It. J.V. Miller Worked For Some Of The Best Contractors In Asheville, Before Starting His Own Company Which Was Miller And Sons Construction Co. The Company Earned A Real Name For Itself. The Company Was Given Credit For Having The Best Brick Masons In The City. The Miller Construction Company Specialized In The Building Of Churches And Commercial Buildings. The Churches The Millers Built Speak For Themselves And Their Builder. J.V. Miller Served His Community And Its People Well. He Was Very Active In Civic And Political Affairs Of The City Of Asheville. J.V. Will Always Be Remembered As One Of Asheville’s Great Leaders.
The 102 Years Old Edifice
Mt. Zion Baptist Church, a handsome redbrick late Victorian Gothic church, is home to one of Asheville's largest congregations of African Americans. The massive church bears a cornerstone reading, "Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Rebuilt 1919, Reverend J.R. Nelson, Pastor," reflecting the building's long history and importance to the community. On Nov. 15, 2019, the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church commemorated 139 years of Christian service to the community. Through the most turbulent years of post-Civil War history, this church has stood as a leader in African-American advancement in Western North Carolina. On Oct. 29, 1989, the church installed Rev. Dr. John H. Grant, of Cross Hill, South Carolina, to command the ship of Zion. Under his leadership, the 6 &4 Capital Improvement Plan was instituted, and the church edifice began to be repaired and renovated. It is beautiful! Pastor Grant orchestrated the purchase of properties adjacent to the church: 35 Eagle St., 42 S. Spruce St. and 51 S. Market St. He organized the Mount Zion Community Development, Inc., a nonprofit community-based redevelopment corporation organized to focus on 1) empowerment of the individual and community to address the needs for jobs, housing, crime prevention, education and health care; and 2) collaboration with local community-based organizations in the physical redevelopment of The Block for housing and supportive services. Recently the properties next to the church were sold, all debts liquidated and ground broken for the long-awaited building of The Administrative/Educational Building. Our history was compiled by current members, Bro. Willie Cameron Jr. with contributions by Sister Willie Mae Brown and our late Sister Diana Mitchell.