Tag Archives: South Georgia Churches

First United Methodist Church, 1908, Bainbridge

According to Bainbridge First United Methodist Church, the congregation was granted land on this site in 1830 and in 1840 their first church home, a ‘log house’ was constructed. A more formal frame structure was built in 1854 and used until the 1890s. A brick church, the first in Bainbridge, was dedicated in 1899, but was destroyed by fire in 1906. The present Romanesque Revival structure was completed in 1908 and dedicated in 1911.

Bainbridge Residential Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under --DECATUR COUNTY GA--, Bainbridge GA

Mt. Zion A. M. E. Church, Decatur County

This church doesn’t appear to be in use at the present time, perhaps due to damage to the grounds by Hurricane Michael. Though I’ve not located any history for the congregation, I did discover this 1970 photograph by the late Paul Kwilecki.

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Filed under --DECATUR COUNTY GA--

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--

Sylvania United Methodist Church, 1954, Recovery

The land on Hutchinson Ferry Road where Sylvania United Methodist Church is located was donated by Moses W. Johnson. I believe the congregation dates to around 1900-1905. They first met in a log schoolhouse, which may have been replaced by a frame church building at some point. The present structure was built between 1953-1954 and was dedicated in 1955.

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Filed under --DECATUR COUNTY GA--, Recovery GA

Mizpah United Methodist Church, 1859, Effingham County

From the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church: In the late 1850s, Dr. Ayer from Rome came to the community to visit his daughter, Mrs. Anderson P. Longstreet, who lived in the community. There was no Methodist church in the area at this time and so Dr. Ayer contributed financially to funding a church. Lewis Grovenstein, Benjamin C. Porter, and A. P. Longstreet was selected to organize the new sanctuary and four acres were selected from property owned by George W. Best. The new structure was a frame building measuring thirty-five feet by fifty feet by thirteen feet and was completed in December 1859. On March 18, 1860, the church was organized with twenty females and twenty males on the roll. This church was served by two pastors, Rev. B. F. Breedlove and Rev. L. L. Strange. The first quarterly conference was held in September 1866, under the pastorate of Rev. N. D. Morehouse. In 1885, money was collected to “remodel, repair and paint” the church and, in 1886, the roof was extended in the front and pews were built…In August 1945, electricity was installed at Mizpah… Also in the 1940s, the inside of the sanctuary was remodeled so that the separate entrances and seating for men and women were changed to one double door and one center aisle. In 1953, the wood burning stove was replaced with a gas heater…

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Walker Grove Church, Newington

I’ve not been able to locate any history of Walker Grove Church, but it is an important landmark of African-American religious architecture and was obviously integral to its community since. A school was located on the same property.

Board walls were paneled and sheet rock and ceiling tiles added at some point in the congregation’s history. There is no air conditioning and since I didn’t locate a chimney I presume there was a flue for a pot-bellied stove somewhere.

A baptismal is located beside the church.

This style was very common among African-American congregations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and I believe the church dates to the early 1900s-1910s.

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Filed under --SCREVEN COUNTY GA--, Newington GA

Salem Baptist Church, Candler County

Salem is said to be the oldest church in Candler County, built in 1875. I haven’t been able to confirm the construction date, as my two sources are in conflict. One source notes that it began meeting in 1875 and was formally organized in 1900.

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Filed under --CANDLER COUNTY GA--