This is one of two abandoned churches in Westwood.
Tag Archives: Churches of Ben Hill County GA
West Point Baptist Church is an historic African-American congregation in the Westwood community of Fitzgerald. Westwood was populated by skilled African-American machinists, most of whom worked in the nearby Atlantic Coast Line Railroad shops. It’s interesting that the establishment of the church predates the settlement of Fitzgerald and the location of the railroad by nearly 20 years. The present structure was built in 1972.
The church, which is the center of the Westwood community today, recently lost its well-loved and long serving pastor, Reverend Willie B. Pride (1938-2020).
Young’s Chapel has been one of my favorite places since I first discovered it over ten years ago. I drive out from Fitzgerald nearly every time I’m home just to check on it. Though I have no connections to the church, I’ve always felt at home when I visit. It’s the kind of place that has that effect on many. On one of those recent trips, I was heartbroken when I saw the damage done by a tornado which passed through in January. As if this special little church needed anything else working against it.
Luckily, Matt Brown recently rescued the pews before vandals could steal or destroy them. They were gone before the tornado came through.
Talk of restoration has been ongoing, but in light of the recent damage it will be an even more difficult task, perhaps impossible.
Before it was known as Arp, this community on the Irwin-Ben Hill County line was known as Isaac. The name was changed sometime between 1910 and 1915, and judging by the burial dates in the adjoining cemetery, I would estimate that this church dates to about 1910.
Since there was already an Isaac Baptist Church, the small African-American community here named their church Mount Isaac, to distinguish it from the the white church. And though Arp is located in Irwin County, the church and cemetery are just over the county line in Ben Hill.
Many thanks to Laura Wiggins Norris for bringing it to my attention, and to Dale Bledsoe for the history.