Atlanta's Historical Churches, Atlanta

Atlanta's Historical Churches (Self Guided), Atlanta

Atlanta has a large number of religious sites. Every church located here is closely linked to the events of the American Civil War. Most of them have been destroyed, while the ones that remained standing have kept the dark secrets of war in them so we can know what happened. Be sure to visit the world-famous Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor. Follow this self-guided walking tour to see some of the best known historical churches in Atlanta.
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Atlanta's Historical Churches Map

Guide Name: Atlanta's Historical Churches
Guide Location: USA » Atlanta (See other walking tours in Atlanta)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
  • Central Presbyterian Church
  • Big Bethel AME Church
  • Sacred Heart Church
  • All Saints Episcopal Church
  • Saint Mark United Methodist Church
1
Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

1) Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

A paragon of simple beauty, Downtown's Catholic Shrine may lack the grandeur and scale of a Catholic cathedral, but nonetheless does not shy in serenity and majesty. Whether or not you are a Catholic, this church, named after Murillo's painting "Immaculate Conception", should be on your list of attractions to visit, especially if you are in the Downtown area and enjoy history. It is extremely welcoming and genuinely friendly to people from all walks of life and every background.

Located near the Georgia State Capitol and almost next door to the Central Presbyterian Church, the Shrine, completed and dedicated in 1873, is one of Georgia's oldest churches that was fortunate to survive the shock of Civil War (or "The War Between the States", according to a nearby plaque).

The main building has only one large interior room, but within it you will find the sides flanked with gorgeous stained glass windows and paintings describing the Passion of Christ, while the ceiling is adorned with eight large colorful portraits of Catholic saints. However, the main spotlight as you walk in is the ornate main altar. Absorb the serene atmosphere as you slowly walk toward it to admire its detailed beauty!

Tip:
Try to go on a sunny day with the light streaming through the stained glass windows.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 10am–4pm
2
Central Presbyterian Church

2) Central Presbyterian Church

Central Presbyterian Church is a historic church on Washington Street in Atlanta. It was founded in 1885 and was added to the National Register in 1986.

Its tumultuous history includes its difficult separation from the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta in 1858, occupation by Union forces in 1864, and trials of church members for offenses such as allowing dancing at a teenager's Christmas party during the 1880s.

Following this “reign of terror” against “errant members" and then a period of healing, the church began to emphasize social justice. During the 1930s, it became known as "the church that stayed" as other churches abandoned central Atlanta for the suburbs. Following the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968, the church focused on building bridges between white institutions and the African-American community.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
3
Big Bethel AME Church

3) Big Bethel AME Church

The Big Bethel AME Church is the oldest African-American congregation in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Atlanta, and according to AME historical documents, it is the mother church of AME in North Georgia.

Big Bethel was founded in 1847 as Union Church in the town of Marthasville, Georgia. Marthasville became Terminus, and finally Atlanta, and Union Church became Bethel Church, then Bethel Tabernacle. At the close of the Civil War, the AME Church spread rapidly throughout the former Confederacy, and the Bethel Tabernacle allied herself with the denomination, becoming Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Her first pastor was Rev. Joseph Woods.

In 1879, the first public school for blacks in Atlanta, Gate City Colored School, was founded in the basement of the church, though it would later move to Houston Street. Morris Brown College held its first classes here in 1881 before moving to its first campus. Big Bethel was known as "Sweet Auburn's City Hall." In 1911, President William Howard Taft spoke here, as did Nelson Mandela in 1990.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
4
Sacred Heart Church

4) Sacred Heart Church

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, formerly called the Sacred Heart Church, is the first Roman Catholic basilica in Georgia. The church was built in 1880 with bricks which was uncommon for a church building as most churches at that tome were built in stone. It has a traditional design, similar to Chiaravalle della Colomba, situated near Fidenza, Italy. It is the only church in Atlanta with two spires and it is painted in international orange, the same color as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

The architecture is imposing from the outside and inspiring inside. Attending a mass here is a unforgetable experience for all Catholics visiting Atlanta. But you don't have to be religious to appreciate the beauty of the building.
5
All Saints Episcopal Church

5) All Saints Episcopal Church

All Saints Episcopal Church traces its history back to 1901 when Mary Jane Peters donated a small piece of land to be used for "church purposes". On June 7, 1903, All Saints Episcopal Church was founded.

The initial church chapel was made of wood and stucco, and was designed by, Harriett Dozier, one of the few female architects of the time. The current church building was built in 1906 on the same location to replace the original and much smaller church to accommodate the growing congregation. All Saints Episcopal Church features a Victorian Gothic architecture with beautiful stained glass windows as its main attraction. Several of the windows are Tiffany originals.

All Saints' is a progressive Christian congregation in the heart of midtown Atlanta with over three thousand members.
6
Saint Mark United Methodist Church

6) Saint Mark United Methodist Church

One of the few Gothic Revival granite churches left in Atlanta is the Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Midtown. The building was constructed between 1902 and 1903 by the congregation of Merritts Avenue Methodist Church after they outgrew their previous house of worship.

The architecture is notable for its use of Stone Mountain granite, triple entrance portal, and twelve pictorial pot-metal stained-glass windows depicting scenes from the life of Jesus; the latter were installed gradually from 1909 to 1959. The building itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is also designated as a historic sight by the City of Atlanta.

The architect, Willis F. Denny, also constructed two other granite Methodist churches that survive today. The congregation chose this location to give themselves more room and to be in a less dangerous position than the "Tight Squeeze" area beyond the city limits.

In the early 1990s, the church was on the verge of closing but the congregation ended up swelling to more than 1700 members during the decade. It is now a diverse community for young and old, single and married, and those of various gender identities. A fifteen-year series of renovations to the main sanctuary was completed in 2008.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am–5pm; Sun: 9–10am / 11:15am–12:30pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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