Mt. Zion Presbyterian

Hancock County
Org 1813
Photography by Scott Farrar

Click HERE to take an interior tour of Mt. Zion Presbyterian

Mt. Zion was founded as a Presbyterian Church in 1813. It was sold to the Methodist Church in 1903 and was active until 1958. The church is visible from the highway and is sited on a high piece of ground with a commanding view of the countryside. It is a proper location for a church designed in the Greek Revival style. The double door entrance leads to an interesting double aisle pew arrangement and the four large columns complete the majesty that is Mt. Zion. The community of Mt. Zion has a most extraordinary history, the traces of which have entirely vanished with one big exception: Mt. Zion Presbyterian Church.

Mt. Zion has a storied history as an education center beginning with Rev. Nathan Beman. Rev. Beman moved from Maine to Georgia in 1812. Shortly thereafter, he agreed to serve as the Headmaster of the academy at Mt. Zion as well as the pastor of Mt. Zion Presbyterian. At the time, the community consisted of the church, a two-story schoolhouse, many houses, and various other buildings. In a period of a few short years, Rev. Beman was able to turn Mt. Zion into one of Georgia’s most celebrated institutions. There has been a governor (William J. Northern, elected in 1890), as well as famous educators and writers associated with this small community. We are told that Mt. Zion barely lost out to Athens as the location for the University of Georgia campus.

Mt. Zion was originally a Presbyterian Church, organized by Rev. Beman in 1813. The present building is the original structure, constructed in 1814. This is unusual in that most churches in the rural backcountry started as ‘brush arbors’, then progressed to a log church, and finally to one or more versions of a framed sanctuary. The fact that this delightful structure was built in 1814 and still survives speaks to the wealthy planters who envisioned Mr. Zion as an education center of learning from the very beginning. Mt. Zion’s reputation as such was known far and wide. After the Civil War, membership dwindled until the building was sold to the trustees of a Methodist Church for $200 in 1903. The Methodists worshiped in the building until 1958. The building is currently owned by the Hancock County Historical Trust and open to respectful visitors. The Hancock Historical Trust keeps the building in its current state and makes repairs when necessary.


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