Sardis Baptist goes back to the very earliest days of what was then Floyd County, created from Cherokee County on Dec. 3, 1832, by an act of the General Assembly. Chattooga County was created out of Floyd in 1838. These were very stressful days in this part of North Georgia as the Cherokees were trying desperately to hang on to their ancestral lands. By 1830, the Cherokee Nation consisted of most of northwest Georgia, plus adjoining areas in Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Even while Cherokee Indians remained on their homeland in Georgia, the General Assembly on Dec. 21, 1830 enacted legislation claiming “all the Territory within the limits of Georgia, and now in the occupancy of the Cherokee tribe of Indians; and all other unlocated lands within the limits of this State, claimed as Creek land” (Ga. Laws 1830, p. 127). The act also provided for surveying the Cherokee lands in Georgia; dividing them into sections, districts, and land lots; and authorizing a lottery to distribute the land.
This from the local church history – “Historic Sardis Baptist Church in its conception in 1835 was actually part of Floyd County, pre-dating Chattooga County by a few years. The Church was constituted in 1835 near what is known as Price’s Bridge, about one mile south of the present place of worship. In 1859, Sara Price donated one acre of land located on the Gaylesville-Summerville Road. The Church has remained in service since its early beginnings and still retains most of its original appearance. The historic church is built on the old style and the heavy timbers were put together with wooden pegs. A gallery at the rear of the sanctuary was installed during the days preceding the Civil War when the Negro slaves were members.
The partition down the middle of the three-pew-wide sanctuary has been retained, where the men and women once sat on separate sides during worship services. In 1942, the Chatooga Baptist Association assisted in restoring and reroofing the church, and a short time later, classrooms were added to the rear of the church. The slave balcony was remodeled in 1981 for use as additional classroom space. Located adjacent to the church stands the Fellowship Hall, donated by Miss Lorraine and Miss Gertie Elrod in 1998. The Chattoogaville School was in operation until 1940 at the same location.”
All of us are grateful to the congregation of Sardis for maintaining her proud sense of history and architecture. They have made the necessary adjustments to attract and serve the congregants but they have done it a way that preserves the character and history of this proud part of Georgia history.
Sardis was founded in 1835, when the entire area , according to court ruling, still belonged to the Cherokee People. From the outset, the congregation prospered and was able to construct a sanctuary in 1859 just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. Sardis' exterior, architecture and design is classic mid-19th century. And, it is much more handsome than most of the single-gable, wood frame, clapboard churches of the era. The striking cornice returns, decorative wooden brackets, elaborate door and window frames, large high windows with matching louvered shutters all reflect the pre-war prosperity in this part of Georgia.,
In this floor level view from the back of the church toward the chancel/pulpit, we see that the dividing rail and wall still remains in place. The tradition of dividing the men from the women and children faded toward the end of the 19th century. These days, the rail and wall are found in relatively few of the remaining old churches. The walls and ceiling are board and batten rather than traditional, flat heart pine boards. This feature adds a textured, decorative element within the otherwise quite plain sanctuary at Sardis.
The Sardis interior remains fairly faithful to its original configuration. But, from the pulpit, we get a view of the interior changes in layout that have occurred over the years. The open door on your right provides a glimpse of the stairway that originally led up to the slave gallery. In the 20th century, the entire lower, back area of the sanctuary was partitioned and remodeled to provide interior rooms for classes and storage. The gallery itself was fully partitioned in the 1980's and converted to interior rooms as well. The windowed and shuttered area in the center of the back wall provide views out of that area as well as a source additional natural light for the upper rooms.
This is a view of the pulpit and chancel area from the interior of the upper rooms. The bright and festive Christmas decorations we see are evidence of the pride, loving stewardship and vitality of the Sardis congregation in its 150th year.
Here we have an unobstructed view of the sanctuary from the upper rooms. The high traditional globe lighting is augmented by the natural light that flows into the space through clear, 16 over 16 sashed windows. The wood floors seem to glow as well. All of these elements help create an inviting atmosphere in this old meeting house. We are sure you would be welcome and would enjoy the chance to join this congregation for Sunday services and events.
This view of the exterior provides a final reminder of the striking and attractive facade of this lovely and historic old church. Through its constant maintenance and loving care, its congregations have insured that this special old church will continue to serve its mission and be a significant example of the importance of the historic rural churches of Georgia for generations to come.
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LOVE these pictures. I have already commented some time ago on these. My father pastored this church in the 1950’s and had to resign for health reasons. I look at them often and thank the Lord that this church is still alive and well. My father’s name was Marshall Dyches.