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.
Organized as Folsom Creek Baptist Church on 28 June 1792 by Adam Jones and Jeptha Vining, this church was renamed Horeb in 1798 and relocated to the present location in 1799. As was often the case, slaves were members until the Civil War and some are buried in the adjacent cemetery. Newly emancipated, African-Americans began to organize their own churches after the war. At its bicentennial in 1992, membership in Horeb had dwindled to such a low number that the church officially disbanded. It is still well-maintained and used for occasional events and services.
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.
Established in 1777, Little Brier Creek Baptist Church is the oldest in Warren County.
The South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church notes: Collinsworth was organized prior to 1830, by a band of Methodists meeting at the home of George Menifee. The first church was a log cabin called Menifee’s Meeting House. They built the present structure in 1834 and named it for Reverend John Collinsworth, a former pastor. The dedication service, by Reverend Lovick Pierce, wasn’t held until 1859.
Collinsworth is a fine example of a vernacular Greek Revival church, evident in the locally executed Ionic capitals (above). The builder was Urban Cooper Tigner, owner of a nearby plantation and a self-taught architect/contractor. Tigner also built the Lumsden House.
Corinth Methodist Church was organized by Reverend James Stockdale and Josiah Matthews in 1828. The congregation met at varied locations over their first four decades. This vernacular Greek Revival structure was dedicated by Reverend R. J. Corley on 24 October 1869. The congregation consolidated with the nearby Collinsworth Methodist Church in 1965.
St. Paul Methodist Church was originally known as Enterprise. They worshiped a few miles away in a church built in 1871 by William and Kinchon Little and assumed the name of St. Paul in 1879. In 1897, they merged with another church in the area, New Hope, and built this structure adjacent to Rockville Academy. The land was donated by Professor F. G. Branch, principal of the academy, and the land was chosen because it was halfway between the old St. Paul Church and New Hope Church.
Rockville Academy and St. Paul Methodist Church Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
Centennial Christian Church is located just south of the Greene County line in Hancock County. The congregation has served the families of the area for over a century and the church and grounds are beautifully maintained.
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.