Monticello Methodist

Jasper County
|
Org 1895
|
Photography by Cate Short

CLICK HERE FOR AN INTERIOR TOUR OF MONTICELLO METHODIST CHURCH 

The land that became Baldwin County was held for many years by the Creek Indians until a treaty in 1803. In 1807, the land was further divided and Jasper County, originally called Randolph, was formed.

In those early years, the first white settlers to arrive here were subsistence farmers who grew corn and raised livestock and cattle. But all of that would change with the Land Lotteries which brought rapid growth to rural Jasper County. When it was discovered that cotton grew favorably here, plantation owners came from the Carolinas to establish large farming operations here based on enslaved labor.

As the rural population of the county grew, a small town began to form on a flat hilltop near a deep spring in the center of the county, named Monticello after President Thomas Jefferson’s estate in Virignia. In 1807, lots in the town were platted and in 1808, it was named the seat of Jasper County.

Cotton warehouses, farm stores, and grist mills sprang up in Monticello and in 1809, a lot was sold to the Methodist Congregation for $5 to start the first church in town. And while burials in the graveyard here date to 1815, the congregation met in church members’ homes until they were finally able to build a structure on the lot in 1828. The simple frame structure, which could seat 150 people, was lost to a tornado in the 1890s.

In 1895, this Carpenter Gothic style building was erected on the site to replace the previous one for a cost of $3,500, along with an adjacent parsonage. Eclectic features include arched windows on the facade, a belltower with an octagonal turret, and beautiful stained glass. 

The ornate details of the building reflect the relative affluence of this community as it emerged from the Post-War Era. The railroads had arrived in Monticello in the 1880s, providing farmers access to larger markets, and thanks to the continued demand for cotton in Europe, farmers and townspeople experienced prosperity here until the 1920s when Boll Weevil decimated cotton crops.

In 1927, a Sunday School Room was added (the wing on the right side of the building facade) and in 1935, improvements were added to the sanctuary, including memorial windows, a pipe organ, a chandelier, and chimes. The building would continue to serve its congregation until 1955 when it was decided that the sanctuary was no longer suitable. In 1957, a new site was purchased by the church and in 1960, the older building was sold to be used as a funeral home. Portions of its stained glass were removed and installed at the new Methodist Church.

Since then, the structure has served as a non-denominational church and as a county library until the early 2000s when it was purchased to be turned into an event space. Unfortunately, those plans never came to be and the building sat empty for many years, suffering from vandalism, weather damage, and neglect. In 2020, it was named a Place in Peril on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation list, bringing much-needed attention to the endangered structure. In 2021, a private buyer stepped up to purchase the building. We look forward to seeing what the future has in store for this special building!

The cemetery, on a separate but adjoining parcel, is still maintained by the Methodist Church. With more than 170 burials, it includes many of the founding families of Monticello and Jasper County. One of whom is Thomas Grant, a Revolutionary War soldier of considerable wealth who was a church benefactor. Also, a hero of the War of 1812, General William Lee. For more stories from the graveyard, please scroll through the gallery of images below. 

+ Read More