Sundown Chapel – Leesburg Presbyterian
The church you see above was originally in Leesburg. It was owned at one time by the Leesburg Presytery and was built in 1906, before being sold to the First Baptist Church of Leesburg located next door. Over time, the Baptist church had grown by leaps and bounds and the old Presbyterian church became abandoned and found itself on the edge of a parking lot. It had been well maintained by the Baptists but they could find no real use for it and were glad to sell it when a buyer emerged.
Sundown Plantation, owned by Ellen Alderman and located outside just outside Moultrie, is a very successful commercial quail plantation…..check it out here. Ellen has a thriving wedding business at the plantation but she wanted an authentic wedding chapel and she knew she had the ideal location for it. She got in touch with our photographer, Steve Robinson, who suggested she take a look at Leesburg Presbyterian in Leesburg. The Baptist church had purchased the church in 2009 and had reluctantly come to the conclusion that it was going to be too expensive to bring the building up to code to use it for anything concerning church functions, so it was used for storage. The only thing in it’s future was, eventually, demolition.
Ms. Alderman contacted the Baptist owners and describes the event thus…..”We are very proud of how the Leesburg Presbyterian Church has been given new life as The Chapel at Sundown. The move from Leesburg, GA, in July, 2016 to the first wedding in early March, 2017, took 8 months of hard work. The roof & bell tower had to be removed with us saving as much of it as we could. When we relocated it to Sundown Plantation in Moultrie, GA, we had a severe storm causing the dropped ceiling to collapse. Luckily, a beautiful wood ceiling was revealed & basically unharmed. We replaced the roof & bell tower to the exact original measurements, but everything under the roof is original from the ceiling, floors, stained glass windows, pews & plaster walls infused with horsehair as was the custom of the day. The original bell is back in the bell tower & has a beautiful sound.
When we first saw the church in Leesburg about four years ago, it had blue vinyl siding, but underneath we found grey paint & underneath the grey was white. We chose our colors to blend in with our plantation setting without being too bold. We matched the inside white which seemed to be original & we kept the dark wood below the chair rail as it matched the original ceiling. The pews which appear to be the originals were in great shape. We were able to move the church with the pews in it…… I am so appreciative to Steve Robinson for telling me about this gem that was about to be torn down and to Keith Anthony from the First Baptist Church of Leesburg who worked with me for the three years it took me to commit to this endeavor. The old Leesburg Presbyterian Church now has new life and will have lots of TLC for generations to come.”
The move from Leesburg to Sundown Plantation took four days to complete but what a storybook ending for a beautiful piece of Georgia history on the verge of demolition. Drop by and see the new home for Sundown Plantation Wedding Chapel if you are in the area, and say hello to Ellen Alderman. We are all indebted to her for this beautiful restoration job and saving this old treasure that can now be appreciated for generations to come. The following photos will document both the move and the restoration.