Shiloh Methodist is located in the little village of Shiloh on the eastern edge of Harris County. The Shiloh post office was established in 1874. We don’t have a lot of history on Shiloh Methodist but according to the History of Harris County 1827 – 1961 the Methodist church was constructed near the railroad on land donated by Daniel Jenkins. The Jenkins family was prominent in the Methodist Church, as six of its family members served the denomination. The church was chartered in 1892 and the sanctuary was completed in 1893.
The history relates an interesting story that happened at the church at a service in December of 1955. The church had a contest among the membership for the oldest Bible. We are told that “There was an interesting assortment of Bibles on the table at the altar of the church for the morning service. The Oldest Bible was a Scotch Pentateuch, a portion of the first Bible printed in the Gaelic tongues – the language of the natives of Scotland. It was printed in 1783, and has belonged to the family of Mrs. J.A. Hanson ever since. It was brought to America in 1790, and has an interesting history with following the Calhoun Clan 172 years. None of the Scotch descent in the church was able to read a work of the Bible written in the language of their ancestors”.
The church is inactive and had fallen on hard times, including a seriously compromised roof. Fortunately, one of the local citizens emerged as a “Preservation Angel” just in time to avert more serious damage. He acquired the church from the Methodist District ownership and began to make repairs to the roof and the interior of the church. As you will see from the photos below, she is in good shape now…..just needs a new coat of paint. Discussions are being held regarding how a re-purposed church such as Shiloh can be used for various cultural activities such as gospel concerts, Sacred Harp singing etc. . These old treasures do not have to vanish from our Georgia landscape. She is a beautiful example of what can be done with some local leadership.
Click on the photos below for much more commentary on the re-birth of Shiloh.
In this photo, historic changes to the church’s appearance are revealed. Originally, the front design of the church featured a plain and simple front with two, uncovered entrances. As the village of Shiloh briefly prospered at the dawn of the 20th Century, the congregation decided to remodel the church. They added two relatively elaborate entryways. The main entry was a lovely porch whose roof was supported by two columns and pilasters with fret work capitals in the Victorian style popular in that era. The other entrance was less elaborate but did incorporate a matching, bracket supported pediment above the door. We also note the rectangular stained-glass window on the right-side front of the sanctuary and two gothic, stained glass windows placed in the center of the front wall of the church. All of these improvements were made to provide notice to other congregations that Shiloh Methodist was flourishing.
Stepping into the Nave at Shiloh, we are presented with a view that is in stark contrast with the worn and rough exterior views seen earlier. The beautiful sanctuary we see here is the result of the interior restoration sponsored by the “Preservation Angel” mentioned earlier. Paul Seitlinger, a local citizen, had watched the abandoned church deteriorate for years. In 2015, he discovered that the church’s roof was leaking and the ceiling falling. Compelled to take action, he personally asked for and was given the deed to the church by Methodist officials. Its remarkable restoration seen here is evidence of his and others relentless efforts. Here we see the chancel and apse. All interior ceilings, walls, flooring, doors, pews, etc are as they have been for over a century. The cleverly designed apse was created by walling off a mid-segment of the rectangular back wall. This design allows for the addition of a single stained glass window to illuminate this area.
Here we see original balustrade/prayer rail, kneeling pad, pews, refinished floors and two of the ten rectangular stained glass windows. This sanctuary is now ready for use.
In this photo we get the chance to have a close up view of the restored heart pine floors, wooden floor molding, three inch typical horizontal wall boards, molded wood window frames with stained glass panes that are featured throughout the church. An early 20th century piano sits at the ready for use at services and events.
Ten stained glass, dedication windows provide ambient light within the sanctuary. As do the two seen above, they insure an always warm and colorful atmosphere within Shiloh. These windows also provide remembrance of special members of the congregation memorialized on them.
Here we see a window dedicated to the memory of Mr. and Mrs. James A. Hanson. The Hanson family were strong supporters of the church as well as the possessors of the “Oldest Bible” mentioned in the history above that was printed in 1783.
This view from the pulpit highlights the lovely gothic stained glass windows. They are significant since we believe they replaced two less ornate windows in the early 20th century. Screw holes and other unseen frame features support this assumption. More important, the slightly discolored portion of the ceiling to the left marks the spot where the ceiling collapse was most severe in 2015/16. Gaping holes and ceiling debris were the clues that Shiloh was in danger. It was then when the community decided an architectural asset like Shiloh must be saved.
Our photographer picked this old “Service Songs” book off the floor. It is a quiet reminder of the huge importance of congregational singing for Methodists as well with most other denominations, particularly in rural areas. Shall we gather at the river?
Here we see the present exterior of Shiloh from a different perspective. This black and white photo, worn as it is, confirms that the church is a notable architectural and historic structure. As you saw earlier, and here again, the church does need some exterior restoration work, most notably some patching of the steeple/Bell Tower, pediments, wood frames, molding, etc. and a good coat of paint. Paul Seitlinger and many others in the town of Shiloh will be undertaking the full exterior restoration. They also are making plans for repurposing the site to insure it will be self sustaining. These citizens certainly have their work cut out for them. We wish them well.
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I photographed this church a few weeks back. It appears to be in the process of being painted. The large home near there is also being renovated
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