Lexington, GA – Lexington Presbyterian Church, organized in 1785 as Beth-Salem Presbyterian, has had a role in a lot of Georgia History! This isn’t the original church building, nor the original location. Looking at the 1892 building in this quiet village about 15 minutes outside of Athens, it’s hard to imagine all the history here.
Reverend John Newton established Lexington Presbyterian Church in 1785 about 3 miles outside of town, in the wilderness. This was just 2 years after the end of the Revolutionary War, and this was the frontier. Reverend Newton served the church until his death in 1797. As the town of Lexington grew, the church was moved to it’s location in town.
Lexington Presbyterian Church – Active for 230 Years
Several notable Georgians attended the church over the years, and the cemetery is the final resting place of Governor George R. Gilmer (Gilmer County is named for him), Francis Meson – who established the first private academy in Georgia, Judge Lewis J. Deupree and Stephen Upson (Upson County is named for him).
President James Monroe visited Lexington. I think of how difficult travel must have been around 1820 before even railroads were built. Quite a few Virginia families had migrated here, and he came to visit old friends.
Several Presbyterian leaders came together and The Columbia Theological Seminary was created here in Lexington in 1828. It later moved to South Carolina, and is now located in Decatur, Ga.
Reading comments of later members of the church, I had to share this one. The church wasn’t air conditioned, and they would leave the doors open during church services. Often one of the neighborhood dogs would wander into the church during the service. Everyone enjoyed the dog joining the service!
The church remained active until 2015, when there were less than 5 members remaining – and they made the difficult decision to close the church.
Truly a special church, with so much history. Thanks so much for reading the blog!