Historically, this church served as Saint Paul’s Catholic Church, though it recently became the home of Saint Andrew’s Anglican. Since the church is primarily known for its Catholic associations, it is that history (from the Diocese of Savannah History book) which I’ll share here: …In the 19th century, Catholics were scarce in South Georgia. In 1898, Bishop Thomas A. Becker entrusted what was then the Albany Mission to the care of priests of the Jesuit Order. Later, he divided this territory, allocating the southeastern section to Marists who had recently arrived in Brunswick. Specifically, Marist priests were to serve Johnston Station, Willacoochee and Alapaha. Johnston Station had no church at this time. Willacoochee had a frame building for services and Alapaha had a small log cabin surrounded by a little cemetery belonging to the Murray family who were Catholic.
In time, visiting priests discovered a few Catholics in McGovern’s Settlement and learned of a “Mrs. Creel” in Douglas. Local lore disclosed that Catholic families in other parts of Coffee County had never heard of members of their faith’s being in Douglas before 1899 when Mrs. Creel’s baby was baptized. By 1901, the territory was restored to Albany’s care. In the early 1900s, several Syrian families moved to Douglas and Mass was celebrated there twice a month. Things remained about the same for some time.
They changed radically when the new Bishop of Savannah, Gerald P. O’Hara, visited Douglas in July 1936. The 40-year-old bishop received a rousing reception. The city fathers strung electric lights on the lawn of one of the Syrian families – the Hannas. More festivities were ahead that evening when the town leaders and ministers of other faiths turned out, as well as the small Catholic community, to greet the bishop. Impressed by this reception, Bishop O’Hara – never slow to catch on – bought a piece of property for $1,000 on which to build a Catholic church. On March 6, 1936, ground was broken for the church. Two years later, on Sunday, July 17, 1938, the bishop dedicated St. Paul Catholic Church, Douglas. Fathers John Mullins and Daniel J. Bourke, were named pastor and assistant, respectively.
Rogers Studio Collection – Courtesy of Tom Johnson
Thanks to Tom Johnson, who is working on digitzing the Rogers Studio Collection, for the above photo. It was made on 17 July 1938, the day the congregation held dedication services.