Saint Ambrose Catholic Church is located west of St. Augustine before you arrive at Palatka, Florida, near the town of Elkton. The Parish was established in 1875 to reach the small farming communities in this part of Florida. Mass was originally held in a barn and then a small wood frame church was used until the current church was built in 1907. On the property, the original French priest used his carpenter skills to also build a rectory, school, and convent. The school was used from 1881 until 1948 to teach the early Spanish, Irish, Greek and Italian settlers’ children. A good number of these early settlers are buried in the cemetery also on the property.
St. Ambrose Catholic Church Grounds, Elkton, Florida
Interior, St. Ambrose Catholic Church
St. Ambrose Catholic Church and Cemetery, Elkton, Florida
Rural churches aren’t always unlocked when I stop by, but this prairie church was open. Zion Lutheran Church, a few miles from Driscoll, North Dakota, celebrated 100 years in 2017. It’s still used, but not every Sunday now.
Heil is another small North Dakota community with a population in the teens. This photogenic church was probably built not long after the town was founded in 1911. It looks to be only used now for storage when I stopped by.
What still remains of Pine Hill Christian Church can be found on a quiet dirt road in Brooks County, Georgia. Though records are unclear, it seems this church was founded in the last half of the nineteenth century by former slaves only a few miles from Grooverville Methodist and Liberty Baptist. The church held services every third Sunday for part of the time, but eventually closed briefly in 1987, was active again for a few years and then officially closed for good in 2005. It does seem that the little church is still looked after as the interior was fairly clean and there wasn’t any obvious signs of vandalism.
In addition to Omaha Baptist, the small town of Omaha, Georgia has another church. Instead of the little house behind the farmer in the famous American Gothic painting, I think this church would have been a great fit. The western Georgia town of Omaha sprang up as the Seaboard Air Line Railroad built tracks nearby in the 1890s. The church is believed to have been built in that decade. When I visited, it didn’t look like it was still in use, but the sign in front says that services are the third Sunday of the month.
Wacahoota United Methodist Church is near Williston, Florida and was organized in the 1850s. The building today is the third at the location, built in 1899 and still without electricity or bathrooms. It’s said to be one of the oldest Florida Methodist churches still holding regular services. The cemetery a few yards from the church also has graves dating back to the early 1850s.