After years of uncertainty, the Zion Episcopal Church in Talbotton, Georgia is now saved! A rare example of the Carpenter Gothic style in the region, the church was constructed in 1848 and the entire structure was assembled with wooden pegs and hand wrought iron nails. The extraordinary detailing includes Tudor arched windows, elegant crockets, and a crenellated bell tower. The church houses an 1850 Pilcher organ—the only working Picher Organ of that design and period in the United States. Beautifully maintained for over 50 years, after the town’s population and church congregation dwindled, the historic structure became underutilized, suffering from neglect and lack of maintenance and the wooden structure faced significant deterioration.
In 2011, the church was listed on The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s Places in Peril, an annual list of the state’s most endangered sites. After years of seemingly little progress, The Georgia Trust was eventually able to acquire the church from the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta in 2019 and transfer ownership to a local non-profit organization set up to manage the church and its restoration, Zion Church Restoration, Inc. In that year, the group raised over $220,000 to aid in the structure’s rehabilitation, including grant funding from Historic Columbus Foundation’s Public Participation Grant in nearby Columbus, Georgia and The Georgia Trust’s Callahan Incentive Grant.
Fully restored in 2020, the site is now operated as a multi-purpose facility with proceeds devoted to the care and upkeep of the structure. Furthermore, its legacy is preserved in perpetuity through a conservation easement proudly held by The Georgia Trust, ensuring that generations to come can continue to admire and appreciate this architectural masterpiece. The story of Zion Episcopal Church serves as a beacon of hope, a reminder that with perseverance and a shared commitment to preserving our heritage, even the most endangered treasures can find new life and purpose.
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See more about the history of the Georgia Trust on our 50th Anniversary blog Celebrating 50.