The church you see above was first organized in the early 1840’s in a brush arbor that was replaced by a log church that was destroyed by fire sometime around 1865. The history states that from that time until 1898, there was no place of worship so the Methodists and Baptists built the Union Church at Midway and worshiped there as a community church for both Baptists and Methodists. The present Methodist church was built in 1900 from virgin pine and the interior still contains the original pews, pulpit and altar rail. The community of Lowell was settled about 1820 along the falls of Pataula Creek, which provided water power for several commercial enterprises including a saw mill, cotton gin and grist mill. The community was later known as Garfield. The church was sited on the banks of Pataula Creek and now sits on the edge of Lake Seminole, formed in 1952 when a dam was built at the convergence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers.
The property on which the Lowell Church stands now was donated by Hartwell Jones Wash. In time it was purchased by W. T. Cridille, Sr. who had moved from Green County and married Ada Elizabeth Standley. In 1900, the land was deeded again to the church and the present structure was completed. For four generations the Credille and Wash families have been affiliated with this church. Some other early members were Lewis Hartley, Edgar Redding, E. G. Owens, J. I. Crapps, R. L. Burnett, W. E. Puckett, Erasmus King, J. T. and R. L. and W. T. Standley. These were some of the earliest settlers in Clay County and many of them are buried in the little graveyard adjacent to the church.
Clay County, in southwest Georgia bordering the Chattahoochee River, was once on the western frontier of the United States. Named for Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky, it was created in 1854 from parts of Randolph and Early counties. The county seat, Fort Gaines, was established in 1816 around a fort overlooking the Chattahoochee River. The fort was built by General Edmund Pendleton Gaines at the direction of General Andrew Jackson to protect settlers during the Creek Indian wars. The site also served as a Confederate fort in 1863.
There is also an old school next to the church that is now used as a fellowship hall. The school predates the church since it was built around 1890. Classes were for 10-25 children and the last class was held in 1921. There are some exterior photos of the school in the gallery photos below. The church is still active with services every Sunday at 9:30 am.
Be sure to click and scroll the photos below for more information about the church as well as a tour of the beautiful interior.
Lowell Methodist has a unique architectural plan. As you saw in the first photo, the main entry of the church is at the northwest corner rather than the standard entry position always centered beneath the peak of the single gable. In this case, one enters through the north door and then turns to their left onto the main aisle as we see in this photo. Now facing east, straight ahead we see the chancel, balustrade, pulpit and apse as is usually the case. We would love to know why this quirky design was chosen.
In this photo we have moved forward up the aisle and deeper into this all heart pine sanctuary. Almost every element we see…. Certainly all the architectural, wooden features and pews…. in this photo are authentic. Lowell’s sanctuary looked very much like this in 1900, it is a 120 year old relic of the past. We are lucky to have the chance to experience this treasure.
We are now looking from the chancel to the rear of the church. Speaking of authenticity, the view presents 10 of the original pews. Original furnishings can be seen along the back wall and are flanked by two of the original 6x6 sashed, clear pane windows. The original entry door is in clear view. Yes, there are rugs on the floor, electric lights, air conditioning and such, but this sanctuary is in wonderful, near-original condition and the congregation should be applauded for its stewardship for all these 120 years.
We are now near the front of Lowell’s sanctuary. We see a handsome, semicircular balustrade whose balusters of heart pine are hand-turned. Heart pine, horizontal boards cover the back wall and rise above the vertical, wooden wainscot. Plush kneeling pillow is provided. These elements are examples of the fit and finish seen throughout the sanctuary. Flanking the attractive apse are two doors that open into a spacious anteroom.
The apse is beautiful and well designed. It is created by a cased opening with a prosceniumlike curved decorative cap. Within are several clerical chairs and the back wall is decorated by a charming and colorful painting of Jesus tending his flock of sheep. This photo also brings to attention the lovely heart pine pulpit and wooden carved crosses on the back wall.
This is a view of the choir area from the pulpit. The piano is placed at the front of the church and is ready to perform. The nearby, large 6x6 sashed clear paned windows allow ambient light to flow into this area illuminating the hymnals in the choir’s hands. Congregational singing has always been an important element of the Methodist service. We also want to take this chance to acknowledge the handsome pews with escutcheons that are original furnishings.
We are always amazed by some of the home made construction techniques that were used in the late 19th century. This is a close up of one of the footings showing how the church is supported. Still dead level after 120 years.
This wrought iron enclosure contains the graves of the Credille family and the related Bakes family. Walter Credille Bakes (1929-1994) and his mother Ruth Credille Bakes (1892-1977) are both buried here. Ruth Credille Bakes was the daughter of Walter T. Credille, Sr. and Ada Elizabeth Standley Credille mentioned above.
This gate at the New Lowell Methodist cemetery contains the name W. T. Credille. This name could refer to Walter T. Credille (1843-1910) written about in the previous section or to his son Walter Thomas Credille (1882- 1938). They are both buried in this cemetery.
Walter T. Credille was born April 21, 1843 and died March 19, 1901. He enlisted as a private in Company H, 1st Regiment, 1st Brigade, Georgia State Troops, September 26, 1861. He then enlisted as a private in Company G, 55th Georgia Infantry Regiment, May 5, 1862. He was captured at Cumberland Gap, Tennessee on September 9, 1863. He was a prisoner at Camp Douglas, Illinois. He was released from prison June 14, 1865. He was married to Ada Elizabeth Standley Credille (1854-1931) on November 23, 1876 and she is also buried at New Lowell Methodist Cemetery. The 1900 census shows they had been married 24 years and had four children with two still living at that time.
Marion G. Redding was born September 24, 1915. His World War II draft registration card shows he was 5’6” tall, weighed 144 lbs., had blue eyes and blond hair. He enlisted in the Army Air Force on May 8, 1942 at Ft. McPherson in Atlanta. His civil occupation was semiskilled mechanics and repairmen, motor vehicles. He served in the 345 Bomb Group, 501 Army Air Force Bomb Squadron. He was killed in action on November 12, 1944. He was one of 111 men who were killed when Kamikazes attacked the SS Nelson and SS Waite in Leyte Gulf in the Philippines. Most of the men killed were ground personnel waiting for the 345th to be moved ashore to their new home in the Phillipines. He was the son of Edgar L. and Nettie Redding. Marion G. Redding’s sister, Etta Mae Richards, died 1990 and his brother Wade Redding, died 1937 are both buried at New Lowell Methodist Cemetery.
This is a photo of the old schoolhouse built in the 1890's. The school served the community until 1921 and is now used as a fellowship hall for the church.
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It is good to know the church is still active. To many of our rural churches have closed their door in an age we really need them and their message.