Moses Chapel, Circa 1904, Decatur County

Very little history can be found regarding this extraordinary vernacular church, which I first learned of through Historic Rural Churches of Georgia. My presumption was that it served an African-American congregation, largely due to the similarity of its architecture to other examples, and this has been confirmed through the index of a rare book by Paul Kwilecki, thanks to Wenda Gaile Bailey.

Tax records date the structure to 1904, but again, this may not be accurate. The style is a vernacular interpretation of one common around the turn of the last century, particularly among African-American congregations.

It has been noted that the congregation dates to 1836, but this is highly unlikely for an African-American congregation, considering such spaces were not legal in antebellum Georgia.

I personally believe the congregation served laborers in the turpentine industry.

The late photographer Paul Kwilecki, a native of Decatur County who photographed the church in 1982, notes that it was moved to its present location circa 1952 to save it from inundation of waters brought by the construction of the Jim Woodruff Dam, a few miles to the southwest on Lake Seminole at the Georgia-Florida line.

A newer church is located on the same property, but there is no sign indicating the name of the congregation.

I hope by publishing these photographs, I will encourage someone who knows the history to share it so I can confirm questions about this critically important and critically endangered church.

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Filed under --DECATUR COUNTY GA--

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