Farewell - Rock Spring Presbyterian Church

15 Oct 2019 6:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)



ROCK SPRING PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

                                    (Its beginnings and its finish)    

                                                     10/15/19                                                                                               In the early 1820s the first pioneers arrived in Piedmont Heights.  The Cheshires, Plasters, Liddells, Colliers and others settled among the friendly Creek Indians.  The area was called the Rock Spring Community because of a spring flowing from under a rock at the foot of a knoll at the intersection of today’s Piedmont Avenue and Montgomery Ferry Road.  In 1835, a one-room log schoolhouse was built beside the spring to educate the children in the growing community.  During the Civil War, the Battle of Atlanta devastated the area but afterwards the schoolhouse was rebuilt; in 1868 the Union Sunday School was established by the Presbyterian schoolteacher, Joel Mable, who held services in the little building.In 1870 the “Presbyterian Church of Rock Spring” was organized with twenty-seven founding members.  They built a small white wood frame church beside the school and   dedicated it on December 2, 1871.  The Atlanta Constitution reported “. . . on a level and beautiful spot with a noble forest growth around it, is a neat-looking attractive church, flanked by a cozy little schoolhouse.”By the 1920s the congregation needed larger facilities and hired Charles Henry Hopson, noted English architect, to design a new church.  Described as reminiscent of the Scottish and English parish churches with echoes of the Gothic style and the “Arts and Crafts” movement, the Georgian newspaper described it as “. . . one of the most artistically designed small churches in the south.” Shortly after the turn of the 21st century, membership and contributions began to decline.  In 2017 as the membership dropped below 100, the congregation decided to sell the manse and some of the property to a developer.  The remainder of the property, including both buildings and the parking area, are protected under the Atlanta City Landmark designation.  The matter was debated vigorously for over a year.  The developer proposed to build a small group of houses around the church in styles compatible with the church’s own character simulating an “English village.” With the preservation of the church assured, the sale went through, and construction of the houses began in the spring of 2019.  Nevertheless, a few months later after much prayer and discussion, the congregation determined that their call to ministry was more than a call to simply sustaining itself.  Thus, the congregation voted to dissolve. The Presbytery of Greater Atlanta will focus first on seeking another congregation for the historic church and has asked the Piedmont Heights community for its ideas for other appropriate uses. The loss will be far, far greater than just the Presbyterian congregation.  More than twenty service organizations and groups of all kinds have shared the church’s facilities over the years: a second congregation called God’s Power and Deliverance Church, preschool, choral groups, homeless outreach, Atlanta Orchid Society, Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, a bridge club, Metro Atlanta Doll Club, several neighborhood condominium associations and, of course,  the Piedmont Heights Civic Association, to name but a few. So, what does the future hold for this historic icon which has served our community so well for so long and which, in fact, defines it?

-Bill Seay       


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Piedmont Heights Civic Association
1579 Monroe Dr. NE, Ste. 307
Atlanta, GA 30324

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