Wesleyan Methodist Tabernacle, 1902, Ashburn

ashburn ga historic wesleyan methodist tabernacle photograph copyright brian brown vanishing south georgia usa 2010

This is the typical style of pavilion used for gospel music “singing conventions” throughout the Wiregrass Region in the early part of the 20th century. Typically, these conventions were day-long or weekend-long gatherings. The structure was built by R. V. Ayers in 1902 when J. S. Shingler leased the site to the South Georgia Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. In the nomination form for the National Register of Historic places, it’s noted that its urban setting makes it unusual for a Georgia campground. Most are located in rural areas. The form also notes, “The campground is also significant in religion as a product of the Wesleyan-Methodist faith, which began in 1843 and is a rare faith for Georgia but one that still exists today, as the Wesleyan Church. The Wesleyan Mehodist Church, a different Methodist faith than the Methodist-Episcopal Church (now the United Methodist Church), had a small following in Georgia, with the Ashburn-Tifton circuit being the largest in the state. This campground is said to be one of six associated with that faith that survive in Georgia. At the height of this faith’s activities is when the tabernacle was constructed about 1902, which was  before Ashburn became the county seat of Turner County in 1905. The Wesleyan Church itself stood nearby but is now gone. The religious campground/camp meeting movement was widespread in the 19th early 20th centuries and continues to this day.”

National Register of Historic Places



Filed under --TURNER COUNTY GA--, Ashburn GA

13 responses to “Wesleyan Methodist Tabernacle, 1902, Ashburn

  1. Donna West Griffin-Boyd

    I spent several nights under and around this tabernacle as a child. My great grandmother would walk me to it when there was a revival or a gospel sing going on. She never learned to drive. I remember those hot summer nights, with people crowded under it, and lines of hand fans going constantly! My Granny’s was a face of Jesus.

  2. Larry Westberry

    They are no longer called Wesleyan-Methodist. They are called Wesleyan’s. There is also a tabernacle in Hortense, GA. It is over 100 years old unfortunately they have made some changes that have taken away from it. They have poured a concrete slab for a floor thus doing away with the straw or hay they needed also they have installed modern lighting. Two of my great aunts and uncles helped build it and supported it until their deaths.

  3. Mayor

    Across the street from the tabernacle is a small toddler’s park; not on the same grounds as the tabernacle. Behind the toddler’s park is the location for the splash pad.

  4. Lee

    I wished that I had found this site last year, our church, Dayspring Church of the Nazarene, held a week long revival at the Tabernacle Sept 14-21, 2011. Anyway, I just read in the Wiregrass Farmer, Ashburn’s local newspaper, that our mayor wants to install a splash pad on the grounds of the Tabernacle. I certainly think that this would detract from the historical integrity of the site.

    • I agree, Lee. A splash pad would RUIN this place.

      • Lee

        I believe that this tabernacle is on the national historic register. Do you know if there are certain stipulations in regard to being a historic site that would prevent an ‘update’ such as a splash pad from going through? I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to stuff like this. Also, from what I understand the tabernacle was deeded to the city several years ago (which might pose a problem in preventing such an ‘improvement’). It used to be a Wesleyan-Methodist campground (to the best of my knowledge), but I don’t think that the Wesleyan-Methodists still exist. If I’m correct what is left of that denomination would now be the Wesleyan Church and/or maybe the Bible Methodists. Anyway…

      • It is on the National Register of Historic Places and therefore doesn’t make ANY additions. It’s a tourist attraction with a value that Ashburn obviously doesn’t realize. Because the structures are built of wood and are generally open to the elements, only two or three survive. I’ve checked with a friend in Ashburn and hope to learn more soon. My paternal grandfather’s family, the Pates, are from Turner County, as well; so I have a bit more than a passing interest.

  5. Wow. Looking back through all these old photographs. I didn’t select to receive follow up comments and didn’t see your question, Brian. I’ll be sure to let you know when one is going on. I know there are several during the summer time.

  6. Sarah

    I live within earshot of the Tabernacle and they still have week-long revivals there every summer and fall!

  7. Louis

    Wondering now if we need more of these built all over Georgia

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