Mt. Airy Presbyterian was organized in 1906 and the structure was completed in 1907. Its architecture reflects it’s early 2oth century Presbyterian heritiage – simple yet elegant. The sanctuary is in mint condition and is a visual treat inside and out. From the local church history – ” The Mount Airy Presbyterian Church was organized in September of 1906 with ten charter members. This was during the period when Mount Airy was a prominent resort town having a very attractive and widely known hotel, The Monterey.
Many people came from Atlanta and the coastal towns of Georgia and South Carolina during the summer months. Also, many people had summer homes in Mount Airy. Dr. S. L. Morris, a Presbyterian minister, and Secretary of the Home Mission Board, had a summer home in Mount Airy. He felt the need for a Presbyterian church and was instrumental in the organization of the church. Dr. Henry F. Hoyt, pastor of the Cornelia church, which had been established only eight months earlier, assisted at the organizational meeting of the Mount Airy Church.
The beautiful building was completed in 1907. Dr. Morris made a report to the Presbytery that the building was completed at a cost of $1,000. The addition of the lovely pews brought the total cost to $1,250. Mr. P. D. Ayers, who was a frequent visitor to the Monterey Hotel, attended services when in town. His generous gifts provided the beautiful pulpit furniture, pump organ, silver baptismal bowl, and communion set.
The church never had a large membership, in fact the peak was about 25 members. Even though the church was small in numbers its ministry played a very important role in the spiritual life of the little village. For many years it had a very active Sunday school. Parents from the other churches sent their children to the Presbyterian Sunday School because of the Bible teaching.
The church not only served the spiritual needs of the community, but often the material needs as well, bringing food and clothing for the needy. It has been said that some children in the community would not have received anything for Christmas had it not been for the community Christmas party held at the church.
By 1979, the members had become so few that the membership was transferred to the Cornelia church. The building, which is now a chapel of the Cornelia church, remains unchanged and contains its original furnishings. A piano of the period was donated in recent years and is now in the Mount Airy Chapel.”
Georgia is dotted with lovely Presbyterian churches that were built in the final decades of the of the 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th. This was a period of optimism and relatively good financial times in most of the state. Many enjoying that era were drawn to the Presbyterian faith. The fact that Mt. Airy was primarily founded to serve as the summer-home church of many prosperous families whose permanent dwelling was elsewhere is evidence of their “well-off” nature.
Once inside, the somewhat austere sanctuary reflects the Presbyterian tendency to avoid ostentation and highly decorative houses of worship. On the other hand, the quality of the construction and materials, the plaster walls, lovely breadboard ceiling, gracious and handsomely designed and finished pews, striking chandelier and gothic windows reflect the congregation’s sense of pride and good taste.
Perhaps the most obvious reflections of the wealth of the founding congregation are the high quality furnishings within the sanctuary, many visible in the view above. From day one, aside from providing construction capital, congregants donated funds for pews, communion table and communion silver service, silver baptismal, the elaborate chairs behind the pulpit, pump organ, etc. We also can see that the wood framed gothic windows were designed to allow opening of the bottom section, an expensive feature in those days.
This view from the pulpit provides insight into the intimate design, look, feel and welcoming, cozy nature of this chapel. It also reflects the caring love and stewardship of the Cornelia Church which took control when the congregation failed and has maintained and used this lovely building for over 35 years now. Note the sweeping view of the North Georgia Appalachian foothills. A stunning view for a stunning church.
In this view we can get a close up look at the lovely, original heart pine floors, bead board wainscoting and chair rail. The piano, a recent gift/addition to Mt. Airy Chapel, is a (now rare) square grand, a relic of the 19th century. The piano could be older than the Chapel building itself.
This eclectic, uniquely styled and decorated chair is a tribute to the maker’s skill and talent. It and its twin have been used at the chapel continuously for over a century. In this photo we also have another chance to see and appreciate the clever design of the chapel’s gothic windows. The lower sash of these windows can be raised despite the fact that the the upper sash consists of a pointed arch.
Mt. Airy, despite losing its original congregation decades ago, is a wonderful example of the preservation, restoration and repurposing we at HRCGA advocate for these historic rural church structures. It is a true success story. And, its adoption by the Cornelia church insures that it will continue to serve its original purpose as well as remain available and accessible for Georgians to visit and admire into the future.
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She is very magnificent!