Smyrna Photographic Essay #1: Religious History/ Churches

The community of Smyrna originated in the late 1830s with the establishment of the Smyrna Campground by the Methodists of the area. The Campground served as a gathering point for religious services in a day when preachers rode circuit owing to their limited number and distances they were obliged to travel in this sparsely settled district.

The Campground was laid out on a 40 acre parcel of land belonging to Wiley Flanigan of Campbell County, who did not himself move to Smyrna until 1843. As noted in the published history of the Smyrna United Methodist Church, It is conceivable that the plot could have been used as a meeting place with or without the permission of anyone. The campground was situated on the south side of what is today Smyrna’s Market Village, enclosed on the east by Atlanta Road; on the south by Concord Road; on the north by West Spring Street; and on the west by Davis Street, as nearly as can be judged.

Religious services were in the early years conducted under a brush arbor, described as a crude temporary shelter of poles with brush roof, boards, and other available material. This rude structure is believed to have stood near the southeast intersection of what is today Church and King Streets.

About 1846, a permanent church building, constructed of logs, was built on the Campground acreage, with an adjacent parcel of land serving as a burying ground (now the Smyrna Memorial Cemetery).

The families of Asbury Hargrove, Hardy Pace, Pinckney H. Randall, Martin L. Ruff, and William Bowie have been identified as among the earliest congregants.

Appropriately, the name given the campground, Smyrna, was Biblical in origin. It was taken from the Book of Revelations and was the name of one of Paul the Apostle’s seven churches in Asia.

The choice of the name Smyrna for the campground has been attributed to Squire William Bowie, whose family homestead stood on the south side of Church Street adjacent to the Campground. The Bowie family owned considerable property extending south of this residence, an area long referred to as Bowie’s Woods, which later, in the late 19th century, was renamed Creatwood.

As late as 1930monly three Protestant denominations were represented within the boundaries of Smyrna—the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians.

1. The Smyrna Brush Arbor, dating from the mid-1830s, said to have beeen located at the southeasr corner of what is now Church and King Streets

An artist’s conception of what the Brush Arbor at the center of the Smyrna Campground might have looked like.2. Methodist Campground

An illustration of an actual Methodist religious campground.


13.1846 Log Methodist Church copy 2

The first church built on the campground by the local Methodists, dating from 1846

11.Smyrna Memorial Cemetery diagram

Smyrna’s Memorial Cemetery was laid out by the Methodists on a parcel of land adjacent to the 1846 church.

13.Collins Springs Primitive Baptist Church

The Collins Springs Primitive Baptist Church, on North Church Road, founded in 1856. The original building was destroyed during the Civil War but was rebuilt in 1866. The church was named for James A. Collins, a well-to-do Atlanta businessman, owner of one of the first general stores in that fast developing population center.

7. 1884 First Baptist Church

The Baptists built their first church  in the downtown Smyrna area in 1884. It was located at the northeast corner of Atlanta Road and Powder Springs Street, on the site now occupied by Smyrna’s Second Baptist Church.

13. First Baptist Church buildings

In 1984, on the hundredth anniversary of the foundation of Smyrna’s First Baptist Church, this illustration showing the three buildings the church has occupied over the course of its history was published.

13. Methodist Church

In 1867 the Methodist erected a new building to replace the 1846 Methodist Church that was burned in the last stages of the Civil War. No picture of the 1867 building is known to exist. A larger Methodist Church (seen above) was erected in 1883 to accommodate the growing congregation.

39. Rev. Alviin Green Dempsey

Reverend Alvin Greene Dempsey, the first pastor to officiate in the 1867 Methodist Church. Reverend Dempsey was also active politically and strongly opposed the federal governments reconstruction policies

36. Robert Harris jones, Minister of the Methodist Church, 1875-78

Reverend Robert Harris Jones, local Methodist Minister and Confederate veteran, 1875-78

13. The only surviving portion of the 1883 Methodist Church stands behind the Gautschy house.

A portion of the 1883 Methodist Church was saved when the building was demolished in 1954, and now occupies a lot adjacent to the Gautschy House and CVS Pharmacy on Atlanta Road.

50. First United Methodist Church, 1911 buildingThe handsome 1911 Methodist Church, one of the most distinctive edifices in downtown Smyrna, stood at the northeast corner of Atlanta Road and Church Street.

The handsome 1911 United Methodist Church building, situated at the northwest cormer of Alanta Road and Church Street, at the southern end of the old downtown copy

Another view of the 1911 Methodist Church

13.Breaking ground for the Sunday School Building, Smyrna Methosdist Chuch, 1934-35

Breaking ground for the Sunday School building, United Methodist Church, early 1930s

13. The First United Methodist Church Women's Club, 1945-46, in the 1911 Methodist Church

First United Methodist Church Women’s Club, 1945-46

Scan 39

The current United Methodist Church building on Concord Road, dating from 1967.

12.United Methodist Church interior SH 4-23-69, p. 15 (improved)jpg

The sanctuary of the 1967 United Methodist Church.

5. Clearing for church (improved) cefx cr

The lot on which the 1924 Baptist Church sits being cleared by a group of church members in 192351. The 1924 First Baptist Church; the so-called Stone Church, the present First Baptist Church chapel

The 1924 Smyrna First Baptist Church, situated at the northeast corner of King and Church Streets, a building constructed of Stone Mountain granite and on that account known as the Rock Church.  This structure was built following the destruction in a fire of the 1884 church.

7. Parishioners entering First Baptist Church, 1924 copy

First service at the 1924 Baptist Church on August 10, 1924

13. First wedding in Smyrna Baptist Church, 1926, SH, 12-20-62, Miss Evelyn Wildbridge & Horave L. Mulkey,

First wedding in the 1924 Baptist Church, held on June 22, 1927

13. First Baptist Church Fish Fry, 1924

First Baptist Church Fish Fry, 1924

13. First Baptist Church Sunday School Class, 1923

First Baptist Church Sunday School class, 1923

13. First Baptist Church annex and adjacent house, 1953

View of Church Street from the driveway of the annex of the First Baptist Church, 1953

13. First Baptist 13. Church annex under construction

Buildings behind the First Baptist Church under construction, 1953

13. Engraving of the First Baptist Church at the time of its dedication, 12-6-62, p. 10

First Baptist Church, 1962 building

13. First Baptist Church steeple under construction, SH 7-15-65, p. 1

The belfry of the First Baptist Church under construction

13. Article w: image Smyrna Presbyterian Church Formed Twice' SH, 8-22-63, p. 10bIMG_0721

Article describing the history of the Smyrna Presbyterian Church

1. Academy Building showing brick main building, SH 8-22-63, p. 3

The original headquarters of the Smyrna Presbyterian Church was in the old Academy Building which stood on the southern side of West Spring Street facing the Smyrna Memorial Cemetery.  This congregation dissolved in 1905, but was reestablished in 1913 in a new wooden structure on Memorial Drive.

13. Ground breaking Presbyterian Church, 1953

Groundbreaking Presbyterian Church Annex, Memorial Drive, 1953

13. Presbyterian Church

Smyrna Presbyterian Church on Memorial Drive across the street from the Smyrna Memorial Cemetery, as remodeled in 1948. 

13. Presbyterian Church rear and annex, 1953

Smyrna Presbyterian Church and annex

13. Presbyterian Church Annex

Presbyterian Church annex under construction

13. New Smyrna Presbyterian Church SH 5-6-65, p. 3-b

New Presbyterian Church, Atlanta Road

60. Log Cabin Sunday School, original building, 1912

Log Cabin Sunday School, original building, dating from 1912

60. Log Cabin Church, original building

Class and teachers outside of the 1912 Log Cabin Church

13.Log Cabin Church 2

The larger Log Cabin Church, dedicated in 1919

60. Log Cabin Church, 1919 building

Congregants outside of 1919 Log Cabin Church

60. Stone Chapel at Log Cabin Church site, 1949

The modern edifice of the Log Cabin Church, dedicated in 1949, stands adjacent to the 1912 building on Log Cabin Drive.

31a. Remodeled Mt. Zion CHurch as Assembly of God Church, Hawthorne St., 1954

The Mount Zion Baptist Church, an African-American congregation, was established on Hawthorne Street in 1877. A black cemetery was laid out on land adjacent to this church.  The building pictured here was built at an uncertain date.  In 1949 the congregation moved to a new location in the Davenport Town neighborhood.  In 1953 this building was acquired and renovated to accommodate the Smyrna Assembly of God church.

19. Davenport Town (old Negro community0 showing Baptist Church and store

The Baptist Church, Davenport Town, 1953

19. New Baptist Church, Davenport Town, 1953

The Baptist Church, Davenport Town

22. First St. John's Church

St. John’s African-American Church

Spring Street Baptist Church

The Spring Street Baptist Church, built in 1933

13. Spring Street Baptist Church, 1953

A new brick sanctuary was built in front of the old building in the 1960s, the old building bricked over, and converted to a Sunday School.

13 Members of the Locust Grove Church, Oakdale, in 1935

Members of the original Locust Grove Church, which served the congregation from 1920 to 1927, located near the intersection of Atlanta and Oakdale Roads 

13. Locust Grove Baptist Church

The Locust Grove Baptist Church was built between 1937 and 1940. This building currently houses St. Benedict Episcopal Church and School.

13. Second Baptist Church, 1946

The Second Baptist Church, located at the corner of Atlanta Road and Powder Spring Street, which was completed in the 1943-46 period.


13. Sharon Baptist Church, 515 South Cobb Drive, SH 7-26-63, p. 8bIMG_0708

13. Smyrna Christian Church SH, 8-1-63, p. 3b

13. Smyrna Church of Christ, 525 Church Street SH 7-11-63, p. 12


13. Bethel Baptist Church, Spring Road, SH 8-4-63

Bethel Baptist Church on Spring Road

13. King Springs Church Groundbreaking 2, SH 2-27-64, p. 1

13. Bethany Methodist Church Groundbeaking, SH April 1965

Bethany Methodist Church groundbreaking, 1965

13. Tillman Memorial Baptist Church, Concord Road, SH 7-4-63 p. 13

Tillman Memorial Methodist Church, 1957

13. All Baptist Church, Bourne Drive and Old Concord Road, SH 8-8-63, p. 1b

All Baptist Church, Bourne Drive at Old Concord Road, established 1955. Church plant completed in 1959.


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