Stillmore Methodist is a beautiful church built in the Romanesques Revival style in 1907. In addition to its sheer beauty it is also significant because it was designed by Charles Edward Choate, one of Georgia’s most prolific and talented architects. Mr. Choate began his architecture practice in the early 1890s and continued until his death in 1929. Although trained as an architect, he also was a Methodist Minister. Interestingly Mr. Choate’s grandfather, Jacob Thompson Choate was also an architect who designed the old Capitol building in Milledgeville and the Wesleyan Female School in Macon.
Shortly after the town of Stillmore was founded in the early 1890s, the Methodists of Stillmore organized a congregation in 1892 and Charles Edward Choate was chosen as the first pastor in December of that year. In 1895 a small frame church was built on land donated by George Brinson, the founder of Stillmore and the deed conveyed to the Trustees of the First Methodist Episcopal Church. Unfortunately, in 1905, the church was struck by lightening and was destroyed. Construction on the current church was begun and Charles Edward Choate, who had since left the ministry to practice architecture full time, was chosen to design it. The church was subsequently completed in 1907 at a cost of $7,500.
Mr. Choate, after leaving the ministry and devoting full time to architecture, had a prolific career and soon became a “regional designer” of commercial, residential and institutional buildings. He did a great deal of his work in Washington County and in 1994, “Buildings Designed by Charles Edward Choate in Washington County, Georgia between 1895 and 1919” were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Stillmore Methodist was placed on the National Register in 1999. The church was heavily damaged by fire in 1915 but was restored in the original Choate design in 1916 at a cost of $10,000.
By the early 1920’s, the church had grown to a membership of over 200 congregants and was assigned a full-time pastor. However, the familiar story of the boll weevil, economic hard times, and migration to the cities in search of employment began to take its toll on rural churches like this all over Georgia. Membership and attendance is in the low double digits now, but the church is still hanging on and lovingly cared for by a small congregation that does what it can with very limited resources. We are grateful to them for their stewardship over the last 100 years of this wonderful old treasure. Stillmore still has services each Sunday at 11am and they would welcome a visit to see this Charles Edward Choate masterpiece. Click on the map below for directions.
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