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First Presbyterian Church of Augusta

First Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian Church
Rebecca Rogers

First Presbyterian Church of Augusta is an excellent example of a church building that throughout its 180 years of continuous use has changed to reflect the prevailing popularity of church styles.  Robert Mills (1781-1855), a nationally known architect of such works as the Washington Monument, designed the orginal church. Mills was born in Charleston and was America’s first native-born architect.  He was working in Philadelphia under Benjamin Latrobe, when he submitted his design for the Augusta church in 1807 in a design competition. The original plans by Mills survive and are among the oldest surviving for any Georgia building. 

Constructed between 1809 and 1812 in the Classical style, the church was significantly changed in 1847 to incorporate Romanesque round-arched windows and doors and crenellated parapet walls.  The only intact features surviving from the Robert Mills design, other than the overall form and size of the building, are the small anterooms that contain the winder staircases in the narthex.  Four halls on the sides and rear of the sanctuary were added to the building from 1951 to 1978.

The church is the oldest Presbyterian Church building in Augusta in heavily Baptist and Methodist Georgia where Presbyterians were always in the minority.  Reverend Joseph Ruggles Wilson, father of President Woodrow Wilson and a distinguished minister of his era, was the pastor from 1858 to 1870.  In 1861, he and the church hosted the first meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America, a national denomination formed in response to the Civil War.  The church building has remained in continuous use and associated with the same congregation since its dedication in 1812.

Plan your visit

First Presbyterian Church of Augusta is located at 642 Telfair St. within the boundaries of the Augusta Downtown Historic District. It is open Monday-Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm. Please call ahead to 706-823-2450. Free.  For more information visit the church website. First Presbyterian Church has been documented by the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey.

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