Barnett Methodist is a wonderful example of the visual power of these old rural churches. It is also an example of a structure that is at risk due to low maintenance. The inside of the church is now bare since all the furnishings are gone and the integrity of the roof has been compromised. Unless something is done soon, the deterioration will begin to accelerate.
Author’s note: We now have some great news about Barnett Methodist. The old church has been saved and brought back to its former glory. It is amazing what a new tin roof, some paint and a little carpentry will do. We owe the new owners a debt of gratitude for stepping in at such a critical time. Now you can scroll the photos with red arrows at the top to see the new Barnett. Reverend Glen Hendley and his wife Rachel (with some help from the Methodist Augusta District) have rescued Barnett from certain ruin and restored her to glory. We all salute this wonderful achievement.
Barnett is an interesting community in several ways. When the Georgia Railroad was under construction in the 1830’s, rural towns and villages began to appear and disappear as a result. Barnett was one of the villages that sprang up as a watering station and depot on the line from Augusta to Atlanta. The fact that this was the junction of the spur line to Washington only made it that much more important. It was a significant part of the Georgia Railroad and the tracks would have been laid for this part of the line sometime in the mid to late 1830’s. Railroad infrastructure included a substantial stone depot, a well and an elevated watering tank for the steam engine. Barnett, at its peak, had several stores and many houses….all gone now. The stone depot was torn down in the 60’s and we have not been able to locate a photo of it. What a shame.
The oldest documented graves in the cemetery are that of Lawrence Battle who died in 1878 and his wife who died in 1877. The Battles were a very prominent family in Warren County. Lawrence donated the land for the church in 1876 and died shortly thereafter. Lawrence’s daughter, Marye Lulu Battle who died in 1900, is the repository of the “Angel of Barnett” – one of the most inspirational gravestones we have seen anywhere in Georgia. A visit to the cemetery to see Marye Lulu and her guardian angel is well worth the effort. When standing in this graveyard next to Barnett Methodist and looking out at the surrounding, empty landscape, it is hard to believe that this was at the center of a thriving, railroad junction town – hotels, homes, stores, offices, livery stables, blacksmith, farriers, train station and all. How can these places simply disappear?