Warrenton Methodist

Warren County
Org 1836
Photography by John Kirkland

We have records of Methodist preachers in this territory as early as 1788, predating the founding of Warren County by five years.  Back then, preaching services by circuit-riding preachers were held in open fields, private homes, or underbrush arbors. By 1797, the first Methodist church building in this territory was built but the records aren’t clear about where it was located. That same year, the current site of Warrenton was designated as the county seat of Warren and the Stagecoach Road between Augusta and Milledgeville, was rerouted to pass through Warrenton.

Warren County experienced fairly rapid settlement and growth around this time. In 1800, the population stood at 8,329 and included 6,252 white residence, 2,058 enslaved persons, and 19 free persons of color. Many of these early settlers and enslaved persons were located east of Warrenton, especially in the vicinity of Wrightsboro. By 1809, the first courthouse had been built and the town was incorporated shortly after. And while Warrenton was a center of county trade and local governmental activities, its commercial area grew slowly during the first several decades of the town’s history.

This would shift in 1835 when the Georgia railroad developed a line from Augusta that reached Warren County bringing great economic benefit and convenience for Warren County Farmers and residence and in turn, further prosperity of the County Seat. It was around this time, in 1836, that the First Methodist Church building in Warrenton was built, at that time called Methodist Episcopal Church South. It was a frame structure that included a separate seating gallery for enslaved congregants. On the other side of the original church was a building known as Warrenton Station where the mule-drawn carts would leave for Camak where the nearest train line was.

As was typical in small-town Georgia, nearly everyone in Warrenton was affected by the Civil War but due to it being the governmental seat of Warren County and a well-established commercial center, it was able to recover relatively quickly. And one of its reasons for the economic prosperity in Warrenton after the war came in 1868 when railroad officials decided to run a branch line to Milledgeville and Macon. While mapping out the new line, the railroad discovered that the Methodist Church was standing exactly on the proposed route for the new tracks. So, they made an offer for $5 to purchase the site of the original Warrenton Station building and the original church was torn down, with the clause that the Methodist graveyard would remain intact at its original site.

The railroad, now called the Macon and Augusta Railroad, completed branches from Warrenton to Milledgeville in 1868 and to Macon in 1871. In 1881, a brick depot was constructed in Warrenton.

In 1886, the second Methodist Church building in Warrenton was erected on the new site. Like its predecessor, it was also a frame building, painted white with green shutters. It could seat 500 people and stood in an oak grove that was the scene of many happy occasions. But like many wooden structures of its time, it met a sad fate on the night of January 4th, 1904 when it burned to the ground.

Undeterred, its Pastor, J.T. Robbins, and a group of laymen began immediately working to make plans for a new building. And it seems they had grand visions for this new sanctuary as they enlisted the great Georgia courthouse architect, J.W. Golucke for the design. Overseen by J.W. McMillan & Sons, construction began in 1905 on the impressive structure that you see pictured here today . The stained glass windows that illuminate the church were purchased in St. Louis, Missouri, where they were framed, and then carted by wagon to the church. The building was completed in 1906 and its cornerstone was laid by Bishop Warren Candler. It was dedicated on October 7th of that same year.

According to church records, it seems that the ensuing decades were prosperous for Warrenton Methodist Church as their congregation grew. In 1933, additions were made to accommodate more Sunday school services but by 1949, they had outgrown those additions and replaced them with an annex. We are glad to report that today, a congregation continues to thrive here with a history that reaches back to the earliest day of the Georgia territory and includes visits from prominent clergymen, like Bishop, Francis Asbury, who preached here twice.


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