Tag Archives: Churches of Chatham County

Our Lady of Good Hope Chapel, 1875, Isle of Hope

From the Savannah Diocesan Archives: Our Lady of Good Hope Chapel began as the novitiate of European Benedictines invited to Savannah by Rt. Rev. William Gross to minister to the former slave population in Savannah. After beginning St. Benedict’s Parish on Harris Street (now St. Benedict the Moor Parish, Savannah located on E. Broad Street) the Benedictines began their novitiate on the Isle of Hope in 1875. It only lasted for one year, being abandoned in1876 after the Yellow Fever Epidemic killed some of its community. Bishop Gross invited the Benedictine Monks of St. Vincent’s Archabbey (Latrobe, PA) to continue ministering to the former slave population in Savannah, and they came in 1877, taking up the mission on Isle of Hope. Soon after the Benedictines moved off of the Isle of Hope, but kept ministering to the congregation until 1888. At this point, another monastery (St. Mary’s Abbey, Belmont, NC) took over the management of the Isle of Hope Chapel, and closed it. It does not reopen for 20 years. Sacred Heart monks minister to the congregation until the founding of St. James the Less Parish in 1949. Mass frequency is cut back to once a month as St. James’ boundaries include Our Lady of Good Hope’s congregation. After the initial 1875 conversion of house to a chapel, it was subsequently restored in 1908. A major restoration and rededication occurred in 1974.

The conversion of an extant frame house into this chapel in 1875 represents the first Benedictine monastery in the South.

Isle of Hope Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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Filed under -CHATHAM COUNTY, Isle of Hope GA, Savannah GA

Isle of Hope United Methodist Church, Circa 1859

The marker placed by the Georgia Historical Society in 1962 notes, in part:  The Isle of Hope Methodist Church was organized in 1851. The first Trustees were George W. Wylly, Simeon F. Murphy, John B. Hogg, William Waite, Theodore Goodwin, Thomas J. Barnsley and the Rev. William S. Baker. The church building that stands here was erected in 1859 on land given by Dr. Stephen Dupon. Its architecture is similar to that of the early churches at Midway and Ebenezer. The gallery at the rear of the church was built primarily for accommodations of slaves…During the War Between the States a Confederate battery stood on the church lot, mounting two 8-inch columbiads and two 32-pounder cannon. The church was used as a hospital for Confederates stationed in the area, the pews (still in existence) serving as beds. Thirty-three Effingham County soldiers sleep in the adjoining churchyard.

Isle of Hope Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Circa 1923, Isle of Hope

St. Thomas Episcopal Church was established in 1922 and this chapel was built soon thereafter, circa 1923. While the congregation has outgrown it, it is still beautifully maintained and used for weddings and other special occasions.

Isle of Hope Historic District, National Register of Historic Places

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St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, 1896, Burroughs

Established in 1832, St. Bartholomew’s is the oldest active African-American Episcopal congregation in Georgia. The Episcopal church was actively pursuing the evangelization of slaves by the early 1830s. In 1832, a white family in the area initiated religious education for its slaves and by 1845, the bishop appointed the Reverend William G. Williams as the area’s first official pastor. He established a church and school on the three plantations he served and was so successful that by 1860, on the eve of the Civil War, his congregation was the largest, black or white, in the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

A gift of $400 from St. Barholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City to the Ogeechee Mission Congregation in 1881 helped stimulate interest in the construction of a permanent home. The present structure was consecrated in 1896 and named in honor of its first major patrons. The St. Barholomew’s Day School was constructed in 1897. It was operated by the church until 1916 at which time Chatham County rented the building and took over its operation. It was closed as a school in 1951 and has since served as the parish hall.

Known officially today as St. Bartholomew’s Chapel, the church which was once so integral to the life of the Burroughs community still meets on a limited schedule.

National Register of Historic Places

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New Ogeechee Missionary Baptist Church, 1893, Burroughs

Organized in 1891 when members split from nearby First Bethel Baptist Church over their choice of Reverend Burke as pastor, New Ogeechee Missionary Baptist Church was built two years later on land donated by member J. D. Campbell. F. E. Washington was the first pastor to serve the congregation.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this area was predominately populated by slaves. In the 1870s and 1880s, freedmen bought land on which they had worked prior to Emancipation. Burroughs was established on the lands of Wild Heron Plantation, at its peak encompassing over fifty dwellings, a school and a store, as well as three churches. It was incorporated in 1898.

National Register of Historic Places

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Christ Church, 1838, Savannah

Christ Church is known as the “Mother Church of Georgia”, as it was the first church established with the founding of the colony in 1733. John Wesley was the rector from 1736-1737; during that time he published one of the first English hymnals in the colonies and established the first Sunday school. George Whitefield, the next rector, was reponsible for establishing the Bethesda Orphan House & Academy, now known as Bethesda Academy, the oldest home and school for boys in the United States.

The present structure is the third building to occupy the site and was built by James Hamilton Couper in 1838. A bell cast by Revere and Son of Boston in 1819 is still in use in the church today. Famous members include Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low and songrwiter Johnny Mercer.

Savannah Historic District, National Historic Landmark

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Isle of Hope Union Baptist Church, 1941, Sandfly

This historic congregation was organized on 23 June 1873 by Lucius Houston, John Simmons and the Reverend Quives Frazier.  The present structure was rebuilt to replace the original meeting house in 1941.  Reverend Collins Tilson was pastor at the time; Jacob Golden, Frank Elliott, Israel Elliott, Isaac Golden, and Norman Thomas were deacons. The cornerstone was placed in the Masonic tradition.

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