I’m honored to be able to share this photograph by Anne Chamlee; it will be one of several I plan on publishing here and on Vanishing South Georgia. Earlier this year, Anne reached out to let me know that she appreciated the work I was doing documenting Georgia’s rural architecture and that she had some photographs of her own that I might enjoy seeing. After several back-and-forth emails and some phone conversations, I’m so glad we were able to make a connection. She’s just as intrigued by the architecture of rural Georgia as I am and by the late 1980s was wandering around the backroads of Middle Georgia, photographing the endangered examples that sparked her interest. She’s also a delightful conversationalist, which is a bit of vanishing thing itself these days.
A Sooner by birth, Anne came South with her family just as the Dust Bowl was coming to an end. They wound up in Florida and she eventually met and married a man with roots in Hancock County, Tilmon Chamlee. Tilmon was a rising architect who had a very successful career in the commercial sector. After many years in Florida and then Macon, Anne and Tilmon eventually settled at Lake Sinclair in Baldwin County, where he continued his practice and indulged in his love for flying. He was also a commercial and instrument-rated pilot. Tilmon passed away in 2015 but Anne remains active in the community. After talking with her on the phone a few times, I still cannot believe she’s 85.
Regarding the structure: It was located near Haddock and is no longer extant. The photo dates to July 1988. It’s quite unusual as a church structure but was likely a multi-purpose center for the community. My guess is that the second floor was used for Sunday School and possibly even by a fraternal lodge. I hope to learn more.
Founded by freedmen circa 1867, St. Mark’s was one of the first A. M. E. congregations in Hancock County and was a major social and cultural influence on the newly emancipated African-American community of Sparta. The present structure dates to either 1892 or 1901.
I believe this was built by the Mayfield Methodist Church to replace an earlier structure on the site dating to 1897. The property was a gift of Lena Birdsong. The congregation formed earlier in the 1890s and originally met in members’ homes and a one-room schoolhouse. Construction began on this church in 1949, but I’m not sure when it was completed. The congregation was never very large and disbanded years ago.
In recent years it has been home to a couple of African-American congregations, including the Mayfield Church of God in Christ and the Ogeechee Ministries of God.
Though it’s owned by the Hill family, this tenant house near Junction City is best known as the home of Joe Mike. Thanks to Sherry Rigsby for the identification.
She recalls: I knew the couple that lived there years ago. They always helped my daddy kill hogs or whatever he needed done. A lot of memories. Joe Mike’s wife had a blind brother who lived with them.
A barn also survives on the property. Ken Hamil notes that it was a smokehouse and there was once a hog pen located adjacent to it.
A newer church at this site is now in use, but the congregation has maintained this historic structure. I’m still searching for a history of New Bethel and will update when I learn more. An historic schoolhouse, associated with the church, is located on the property.
I’ve only been able to determine that this was a schoolhouse associated with New Bethel A. M. E. Church at Leslie Mill. The style indicates early 20th century construction. It’s a significant historical school, from a time when churches set the standard for the education of African-American children.
An historic marker placed by the church and the Georgia Historical Society in 2010 states: Springfield Baptist Church was established on January 27, 1864 prior to the abolition of slavery, and is among the first African-American churches founded in Middle Georgia. Enslaved workers purchased land from Mrs. Nancy Bickers and began monthly meetings. Levi Thornton, a slave, served as the church’s first pastor. Prior to the Civil War most local congregations were racially integrated, though blacks and whites sat separately. However in 1867 African Americans were dismissed from local congregations. At their dismissal, the white congregations presented Springfield with $200 to help build the current building…
Henry Porter, Frank Massey, Umply Stocks, and Jack Terrell were instrumental in the organization of the church. The congregation first met in the old Georgia Railroad depot in Greensboro. To my understanding, construction of the present structure commenced in 1907 and the bricks were salvaged from the old Greensboro Methodist Church.
National Register of Historic Places
This has likely been the home of other grocery stores over the years.
Macon Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
This church was built by Captain James Nichols as Nacoochee Presbyterian, soon after he arrived in the valley and built West End. Freedmen were welcomed as early members. It served the Presbyterians until moving to Nacoochee Institute in Sautee in 1903. It is one of the most visually appealing churches in the area and remains an active congregation.
Nacoochee Valley Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Captain James H. Nichols came from Milledgeville to the Nacoochee Valley in 1870 and soon thereafter established Nacoochee Presbyterian Church (present-day Crescent Hill Baptist Church). Freedmen were welcomed by the earliest members. In 1903 the congregation began holding services in the Nacoochee Institute, where they remained until it was lost to fire in 1926. After meeting in an open-sided shed and a dairy barn, they completed the present church building in 1927. The belfry was added in 1989.
Sautee Valley Historic District, National Register of Historic Places