Senoia Methodist was the first church built in what is now the town of Senoia, approximately 30 years after the county of Coweta was officially organized. Coweta County was one of five counties created by the 1825 Treaty of Indian Springs, when Chief William McIntosh relinquished Creek Indian lands to the United States. The treaty was very controversial among the Creeks and McIntosh was slain by an irate group of fellow Creeks at his home on the Chattahoochee River. Coweta was named after McIntosh’s tribe and their town of Coweta, one of the largest centers for the Creek Nation. Senoia is an usual name and comes from the name of William McIntosh’s mother.
Rev. Francis Warren Baggarly bought the land on which Senoia now stands in 1860. He then founded the Methodist Episcopal Church South in 1861. The first meetings were held in a brush arbor. The first building erected in the town of Senoia was known as the Rock House and was intended for commercial purposes, but was soon pressed into service as a commissary for the Confederacy as the conflagration was sweeping over the south. The Methodist church began to share this building by using the upstairs of the Rock House as its first permanent home.
According to church history, a Virginia refugee, Mrs. Herndon, organized and conducted the first Sunday School classes and pine benches of rough lumber were made by Mr. Iverson Sims. Mr. Mays did most of the carpentry work. The pulpit made by Brother Mays was used by Rev. Baggarly for many years and is still there in the church today, as are the pedestals now being used for flowers. They were originally lamp posts placed on either side of the pulpit. The first separate building for the church was erected on the current site in 1871. It was later sold and moved and the present sanctuary was built in 1898, of shingles in the Queen Anne style. It has been said that Senoia Methodist is the best example of Queen Anne architecture in the state of Georgia.
Taken from above in the church’s ample gallery, we are looking into the sanctuary. This is the third and final home building for Senoia Methodist. It was constructed during a period of relative prosperity in Coweta County, and the structure, inside and out reflects that fact. In this photo, we have to be particularly impressed by the number and quality of its elaborate, stained glass windows which were particularly popular in 1898.
In this view from the rear of the church toward the pulpit and apse, we can see that this church has been particularly well maintained during its first 116 years! The church has been completely modernized but great attention to detail has been taken to insure that its original finishes, decorative elements and physical layout remain as constant as possible. The lovely chancel, pulpit and charming apse remain true to the original design and decoration.
This close-up of the chancel, pulpit and apse allows us to enjoy the beauty within Coweta Methodist as well as see some of the ‘relics’, still in use today, from the earlier Coweta Methodist meeting houses. The pulpit was used by the Founding Reverend Francis Baggarly and made by a Brother Mays. Brother Mays also created the two pedestals left and right. The present pastor, Reverend Erik Mays (no kin), states that, “The historic beauty of our sanctuary sets the mood for our Christ-centered celebrations of joy and life.” t always has and that has perhaps been the main reason this old church remains, active, vibrant, prosperous and spiritually relevant well into its second century. Reverend Mays invites all who would like to attend to join him and the congregation any Sunday, services at 8:45 AM and 11:00 AM.
This black and white photo provides us a chance to examine several of the unique architectural feature within the sanctuary. The ceiling pictured above is of interest in that it displays the “trussed rafter” roof design… two, equal inclined planes joined by a central, level panel. The exposed beams emphasize this pattern and terminate onto wall-mounted, articulated and tapered brackets. Decorative pendents adorn the beam intersections. This interior reflects the same movement at work that we discussed earlier, the late 19th century’s creative burst and rush to depart from standard church designs, exterior as well as within.
Here we see how the architect provided a wide and spacious interior for the congregation as well as clear site lines front to back and side to side by using long, simple, slender columns to support the gallery. The stairs to the gallery are symmetrical and provide a pleasing decorative element as well.
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