25 West Oglethorpe Avenue
Savannah’s Independent Presbyterian Church, organized in 1755, is known as the mother church of Georgia’s Presbyterians. The original church was built on land granted by King George II who wanted it used to build a house of worship according to the Doctrine of the Church of Scotland.
In 1816, the wealthy congregation decided to build a new church and hired John Holden Greene to design and build it for them.
During the Civil War, Union chaplain George Pepper described the Independent Presbyterian Church as easily the finest structure he had ever seen. Although completely destroyed by fire in 1889, it was replaced by an exact duplicate two years later. The interior remains very much as it did when it was rebuilt and rededicated in 1891. The marble baptism font, which was brought to Savannah from New Jersey, survived the fire of 1889 and is still used in the church today.
Composer Lowell Mason, known as the father of public school music, played the organ at Independent Presbyterian at one time. He wrote a number of hymns, including, "Nearer My God to Thee." Ellen Louise Axson, the granddaughter of Rev. I. S. K. Axson, was born in a mansion at the back of the church. She later married Woodrow Wilson, who became the President of the United States.
Of more recent note, the church was seen in the opening of the movie "Forest Gump." The white feather falling from the sky passes by the tall steeple of the Independent Presbyterian Church.
Designed by Rhode Island architect John Holden Greene in the English restoration style, this grand church ranked among the finest American buildings of its day. Built in 1817, with granite shipped from the famous quarries at Quincy, Massachusetts, it is still considered one of Savannah's most notable buildings. It features tall Federal windows, Corinthian columns, a tall steeple, and a breathtaking sanctuary with an elevated mahogany pulpit and soft filtered light.
Open to the public on Fridays.
For more information:
Independent Presbyterian Church
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