This great old structure is similar to other “hardshell” churches (see Emmaus Church near St. George & Wayfair Primitive Baptist Church near Cox) in Southeast Georgia in its lack of paint or anything modern. It’s among the oldest congregations of its kind in the region, having been constituted at a nearby location in 1824. The present church is the third and final location of Smyrna, which disbanded around 1990.
The lack of paint and other modern conveniences was an aesthetic of the “hardshell” congregations which is rarely found today, though some congregations still retain this appearance, especially in Brantley County. This primitive design is even more evident inside, with exposed roof beams, bare walls, shuttered windows, and a haphazard floor plan.
For an excellent history of Smyrna Primitive Baptist Church:
There is no piano, as “hardshell” folk don’t believe in musical accompaniment. It’s interesting, as well, that the pulpit is located on the side of the church, and not in the rear, as is the custom.
The image below illustrates the lack of insulation…
And a good closeup of one of the wooden “windows”…
In the cemetery at Smyrna Primitive Baptist Church are many of the pioneer settlers of Brantley County, including a large number of Confederate veterans.
Here are just a few:
Private George W. Willis, Clinch’s Battery, Georgia Light Artillery, CSA
(8 May 1846 – 14 January 1930)
Daniel Robert Johnson, CSA & Elizabeth Johnson
(25 October 1843 – 3 October 1911) & (4 September 1845 – 7 April 1914)
Private Aaron Hugh Highsmith, Company C, 26th Georgia Volunteer Infantry
(2 September 1844 – 6 November 1913)
Charles F. Highsmith, Company K, 1st Georgia Infantry, Spanish American War