The National Register of Historic Places lists the First Congregational Church in Turton to have been built in 1893. The plaque on the church shows 1892, but either way an older pioneer church in South Dakota. The “Country Gothic” style features a center tower and steeple with an open belfry and spire. The church was locked when I stopped by, so I included an interior photo taken through the window. Its history says that services were discontinued in 1963.
First Presbyterian Church is located near Crescent Lake in Crescent City, Florida. It was built in 1888 and is included on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the town’s historic district.
Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church. is a Late Gothic Revival Church located near New Leipzig, North Dakota. Built by German immigrants who settled in the area in the last half of the 19th century, the church was dedicated in 1905 and originally called Trinity Church. Today, the church is mainly used for ceremonial services (weddings, funerals, etc.) and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
Midway Congregational Church is in a rural area not far from I-95 in eastern Georgia. The area was settled by Puritans in the 18th century. The colonial architecture is unusual for the area and the current church was built in 1792, with the first having been burned by the British in 1778 during the Revolutionary War. The interior includes a large slave gallery and partitioned pews with doors. The building is part of the Midway Historic District which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The
Midway Congregational Church Cemetery located across the street is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Burials include two American Revolutionary War Generals, and a former state governor.
This church was organized in 1866 as Broadfield Baptist Church, located on the nearby Broadfield plantation in a south Georgia coastal location near Brunswick. The congregation soon moved to the current spot and the church was built in stages, with the oldest parts dating from the 1870s and the towers added about ten years later. The front porch area was closed in some time around 1930. There is also a one-room school that provided elementary education from 1907 until desegregation in the 1960s. The buildings are considered examples of early African-American vernacular architecture and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
There was an interesting historical summary of the establishment of former slave churches in the south on the National Park Service site for this listing, so for convenience, I’m adding a portion of it here-
The Needwood Baptist Church formation and history is an example of religious development of African Americans in context of the Plantation Rice Culture. Early settlers found Coastal Georgia and South Carolina suitable for rice cultivation and began development of an extensive system of rice plantations. Slave labor was a necessary element of this system and Africans were imported for this purpose. Slaves were encouraged to become Christians by their white masters. African slaves in Savannah formed their own churches by 1822. In more rural areas of Coastal Georgia, they were members of the white-dominated churches and worshiped with the whites in segregated pews. In the 1830s and 1840s southern churchmen launched a movement to create plantation missions. Rice plantation slaves were the last to be confronted with the Christian religion. This was promoted as a means to control the African-American population which well out-numbered the whites in the plantation areas. This movement was largely successful among the rice plantations because the African-American preachers were accepted by the slave population. Although African-American slaves were aware that whites used religion as a form of social control, they preferred the less formal services held by members of their own race. Elements of Africanisms become part of the services, such as the “ring shout.” The “ring shout” is a religious dance where men, women, boys, and girls formed a ring and began chanting and shuffling, always in a counterclockwise direction.
The Civil War (1861-1865) disrupted the churches as well as the social and economic order of Coastal Georgia. With the offshore islands held by Union troops and the Union Navy blockading the ports, much of the coastal area was evacuated.
Slaves at the Broadfield and the Needwood Plantations, as well as others on nearby plantations, were mostly evacuated during the Civil War. They returned to the plantation lands after the war as freed slaves. Since they no longer were controlled by the whites to attend their church or the plantation churches, these freedmen formed their own church. Within the Baptist faith, they proceeded to form their own African-American Church Associations. The white churches seemed at a loss to understand the withdrawal of African-American churches from their associations. The Sunbury Baptist Association Executive Committee passed the following resolution in 1874:
“Whereas, for more than fifty years prior to the late civil war the colored churches of the Baptist denomination within the bounds of the Sunbury Baptist Association enjoyed, by delegation, equal representation with the white churches of that body, but for reasons unknown to us, have, since the war with drawn and formed association of their own And whereas, we still entertain for our colored brethren the same sentiments of Christian regard we then did and cherish the remembrance of them in the past as zealous co- workers with us in the advancement of our Lord and Master’s cause and now feel a deep interest in their civil, intellectual and religious welfare. Be it Resolved, That this association, and each church composing it, at such times and in such terms as they may deem proper, …pledge…harmonious co-operation in all matters touching our denominational interests.”
I saw a photo of Neuberg Congregational Church looking weathered and forgotten, but when I visited it had been recently painted. This photo was made at the end of a cool day in late May. The church was built in 1925 by Germans who immigrated by way of Russia. They had outgrown their original church since founding the congregation in 1898. More recently, the church was added to the National Register of Historic Places (2007).
Ocoee Christian Church near Orlando was added to the National Register of Historic Places 20 years ago. The church was built in 1891 and is the oldest Florida church serving the Disciples of Christ denomination. The architectural style is Late Gothic Revival and I was able to grab a few photos just before sunset one afternoon.