Behavior Cemetery is an active cemetery believed to have been in existence prior to the Civil War. It now serves as a burial ground for the descendants of the earliest Black families who have called Sapelo Island home.
The cemetery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. The cemetery features many handmade markers that span several decades and more recent granite markers. Burial patterns are not in rows, and the older burials towards the middle and back of the cemetery.
Built as the Sapelo Island outpost for the the Colored Farmers’ Alliance and Cooperative Union, the Farmers’ Alliance Hall serves as gathering place for Sapelo Islanders and their descendants. It was restored in 2008 under the guidance of the Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society, an organization, an organization dedicated to saving the historic resources on the island..
Founded in 1884, St. Luke’s Baptist Church is still an active church with services every other Sunday. It was formed by former members of the First African Baptist Church. The church was initially called the 2nd Baptist Church. Current structure has been in use since 1902.
St. Luke’s also had one of two Rosenwald Schools on the island. Everything I’ve read states that the school is still standing and is being used by the church. If that is the case, this is the school, but it has been heavily modified. I hope to get confirmation that this is the building.
The Old McCanaan Missionary Baptist Church, now the First McCanaan Baptist Church, was founded in 1875. Many of the founding members were sharecroppers from the nearby Millhaven Plantation. It served as a spiritual gathering place the Black men and women of the area. The first building for the church was lost due to fire. By 1912, the new building was erected, which the congregation still uses today.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 for as an excellent example of Gothic Revival in a rural Southern church.
Gertrude “Ma” Rainey Pridgett (1886-1939) is considered the “Mother of Blues.” Columbus, Georgia was her home which is where she was born.
She started performing by the age of 14 and began touring as part of vaudeville and minstrel shows. Known for her dynamic performances, Ma Rainey made a name for herself as she toured the country.
The Ma Rainey house, now a museum, was the home that Ma purchased for her mother and where she moved into upon her return to Columbus. Initially, the home was the typical shotgun that can still be seen in the neighborhood, but Rainey had a new two-story home built. She lived there until her death in 1939. The house was saved from demolition by neglect by committed Columbus preservationists. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 1992.
Ma Rainey rests in Porterdale Cemetery, which was once known as the Colored Cemetery. It was put on the NRHP in 1980.
Opened in 1924, the Liberty Theatre was a segregated theatre that hosted Ma Rainey and other Black artists. Rainey eventually purchased the theater. It was put on the NRHP in 1984.
Alma Thomas (1891-1978) was a Black artist known for her colorful and impressionist work. Born in Columbus, Georgia, she and her family lived there until she was sixteen. In 1907, they relocated to Washington, DC to escape the racial hostility and threats of violence that were directed towards the Black community at the hands of whites.
She was considered a member of the Washington School of Color. A lifelong art teacher, she was the first graduate of the art department at Howard University.
Built in 1848 and consecrated in 1853, the Zion Episcopal Church in Talbotton, Georgia was recently restored. This carpenter gothic style church served as a congregation for a planter class of families who had relocated from the coast.
Like many antebellum churches, the church was built with a slave gallery that still lines the upper perimeter of the church. The doors were locked, so I was unable to document the inside.
It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Built in 1924, the school served the Newborn community until the 1950s. The community came together in 2009 to fully restore the schoolhouse. It’s a contributing property to the Newborn Historic District.
Atlanta’s history with saving important structures is weak, at best. You can imagine my surprise when I learned that there is an 1866-1867 central hallway cottage still standing in Atlanta. It is a contributing structure to the Capitol View Historic District.
Frederick Deckner and his family arrived from Wisconsin in 1866 after one of his sons, Charles, urged his father to take advantage of the Atlanta climate for farming. They are one of the early settlers of this part of Atlanta. They built up several homes surrounding the original cottage, which are still standing.
While the home is structurally sound, it’s location lends itself to neglect and possible vandalism. My understanding is that it is owned by the Atlanta Metropolitan College. If there are any plans to do something with the land, the house should be moved because of its historical importance to the city. It is surrounded by privately owned property, so I recommend not trespassing.
Built in 1937 by Willie Carlyle, the Powell Chapel School was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. The rural school served the local Black community until 1952.
The school is part of the greater property of the Powell United Methodist Church, but it is owned by a group of trustees.
Built initially as the Powell Chapel, the church, cemetery, and school sit on the land that once was a part of the Powell Plantation. The first church building was completed in the 1890s, but it burned in 1907.
The current brick structure was completed in 1920.
The cemetery is contains different areas with headstones. I am uncertain if cemetery is completely full. It is important because it has graves of many freedmen and women.
Founded in 1886 in a bush arbor, the Green Grove Missionary Baptist Church was named because of the year-round green forest that surrounded the church. Perry Hudson, Louis Cherry, and Isaac Shorter founded the church. By 1898, the church began to host school in the church building. Unfortunately, the church was destroyed by a tornado in 1919.
By 1920, the church was rebuilt on land given by Heddy York. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by fire a mere four years later. Another church was built and opened by 1927. In 1937, a school built and used by white schoolchildren was no longer used. Known as the Wesley Chapel School, the building was moved and renamed the Green Grove School. It still stands today. The school was used until 1958, when schools were closed for consolidation.
The church is still active. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
Source- Willie Marie Porter’s bookA Grateful People: An Historical Account of the Founding of a Community
Completed in 1910, the Herndon Home was the residence of Alonzo Herndon and his family. Herndon was the first Black millionaire in Atlanta, and one of the first in the United States. He built his wealth by running several successful barbershops in Atlanta and starting the Atlanta Family Life Insurance Company.
Herndon was born into slavery in 1858 in Social Circle, Walton County, Georgia. After Emancipation, he left Social Circle and began work as a farmhand and learned how to barber in Jonesboro, Georgia.
He eventually moved to Atlanta where he began his barbershop business. He helped save a mutual aid association which eventually evolved into the Atlanta Life Insurance Company.
Designed by Adrienne Herndon, a professor at Atlanta University and Alonzo’s first wife, the two-story, 15-room Classical Revival mansion with Beaux Arts influences, was built by local Black craftsmen. It was simultaneously added on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2000.
Upon his death, Herndon’s son Norris took over Atlanta Life Insurance and built upon his father’s success by turning it into a multi-million-dollar business.
The Herndon family are all buried in Southview Cemetery.