As Natives were pushed off of their land in the 1820s and the Georgia territory expanded west, white settlers began to establish communities and churches. In 1828, the town of Talbotton was founded as the county seat of Talbot and soon emerged as a center for commerce and education well before the Civil War. Two of the educational institutions at Talbotton- The Collingsworth Institute for Boys and The LeVert Female College- educated some of Georgia’s wealthiest students, who went on to do big things. Two of them, brothers Nathan and Isidor Straus, were educated at Talbotton but eventually moved to New York after the Civil War and founded a huge retail empire that included Macy’s.
When Talbotton was incorporated in 1828, a lot was set aside for a church and in 1830, the South Carolina Methodist Conference began appointing ministers to the Flint River Mission, of which Talbot County was a part. In 1831, the Georgia Conference was officially established and that same year, the church lot was deeded to the Methodists, officially establishing Talbotton UMC. Soon after, the group erected a wooden frame building to worship in.
By the 1850s, the congregation had outgrown the original sanctuary so they enlisted Miranda Fort, a master brick mason, and builder from Williamsburg, Virginia, to design a new brick building. In 1857, the original wooden structure was razed and the brick church was erected on the same site that still stands today. The church is a handsome example of the temple-type, Greek Revival Architecture. It is constructed of handmade bricks that have aged over the years to a soft rose color. The front facade is plaster and painted white, as are the six stately Tuscan columns which support the pedimented gable roof. The octagonal three-tiered bell tower is shaped like a small dome topped by a diminutive spire. Broad steps across the front of the building lead to the second-floor sanctuary which is built over an English basement.
The plaster walls of the sanctuary curve at the ceiling line, forming a graceful room without sharp edges. the ceiling contains original plaster medallions and an Acanthus leaf pattern. At the back of the sanctuary is the old slave gallery. The added woodwork around the choir of Parana Pine ordered from South America, is beautifully carved. It’s rich, warm brown, and in perfect harmony with the white woodwork. The six brush chandeliers were designed in Williamsburg, Virginia, as were the pews which are copies of those in the Old Brewton Parish Church in Williamsburg.
On April, 26th 1861, the Talbotton Methodist Church entertained the Southern Rifles, commanded by Captain Hurley, with a bountiful dinner on the grounds under 2 oaks on the south side of the church. The company then left for Virginia to fight in the Civil War. Of the 81 members of the company, only about 12 returned.
In 1930, member Ezekiel Smith donated a steeple bell to the church that was brought to Talbotton from Macon by a wagon team. 1955, the sanctuary was renovated and a choir loft, new pews, and new lighting were added at this time. In the 1960s and 70s, further renovations were done to add Sunday School rooms and modern updates. The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
The entry doors are paneled wood with a rectangular transom window surrounded by simple wood jambs and quarter round casing. Two pairs of entry doors are incorporated in order to provide separate entry for men and women.
The aisle configuration of the pews reflects the separate men and women entrances.
These pews are in the balcony that was formerly the seating area for enslaved congregants.
The view from the pulpit looking back towards the entry of the sanctuary where we can clearly see the separate doorways- one side used by women and children and the other used by men.
The view of the pulpit from the sanctuary is brightened by the large windows, made with 12 over 12 glass panes, triple hung.
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