Located in the A. S. Varn and Son Oyster and Crab Factory, the Pin Point Heritage Museum, the museum shares the story of the freed men and women who founded the Pin Point community in 1890. It showcases the Gullah/Geechee culture.
Residents of the community can trace their lineage to the men and women who were once held in bondage on the Sea Islands. According to the Heritage Museum website, “With the property continuing to be passed down generation to generation, it is now believed to be the largest African-American owned waterfront property on the East Coast.”
The Sunbury Missionary Baptist Church formed out of the Sunbury Baptist Chirch (c. 1806). During an 1846 census, the church had 161 men and women in bondage that enslaved by the white members of the church.
In June of 1866, this church was founded. they held services until 1918, the it was decided to relocate the church to the current site.
Founded in 1886 by Reverend Ulysses S. Houston of the First Bryan Baptist Church in Savannah, the Houston Baptist Church was founded to provide for the spiritual needs of the men and women of Rice Hope Plantation. The church, and the adjoining cemetery, sit on part of the land that used to make up the plantation. When built, it took over the footprint of a praise house that existed there during slavery.
The church was active until the 1970s. Unfortunately, it fell into disrepair, and it almost collapsed after a storm in 2007. The community chose to rebuild the historic church. It presently is a museum that focuses on the Black history of the surrounding community.
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.
Noah’s Ark Baptist Church was organized in 1864 in Burke County, Georgia. It was one of the founding churches for newly freedmen and women in Burke County. Starting under a brush arbor, the congregation moved into a tenant located near where their current church building stands.
Noah Smith donated land to build the first church. after the first two buildings were destroyed by wind and fire, They moved to their following location, where two more buildings were built. The building above was built in 1883 at a cost of $1900. It was in use until 2006. The congregation is now active at a new sanctuary.
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.
I am unable to locate much information on the church. The cemetery is active with burials as recent as 2021. The names on most of the headstones were some version of Clements, Clemons, and Clemmons. Several of the headstones had impressions on the back of the headstones.
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.
Built around 1938, the Philadelphia School is tied to the freedman’s church, Philadelphia Baptist Church. The church was founded in 1875. The land where this school sits was purchased in 1883. Records show there were teachers associated with the church by 1885. Unfortunately, in April 1936, a fire in the schoolhouse spread to the chapel and destroyed both buildings.
Founded in 1852, the Piney Woods Primitive Baptist Church is located in the crossroads town called Rico which now makes up the town Chattahoochee Hills. It has a mixture of box slab crypts, seashell covered graves, field stone markers, and traditional late 1800s headstones.
The church moved from the site by 1856, but the cemetery stayed active close to 1900. One side of the cemetery contains burials with no markers. It’s believed they are for men and women who were born into slavery of the founders of the church and the town of Rico.
The seashell covered graves were a Southern phenomenon. In the Christian tradition, they represent a person’s travels through life and the final passage involves crossing water into the promised land. An articles that provides further details can be read here.
The Rico Scout Lodge served the community of Rico as a general store, post office, Masonic lodge, and a place where the local civic club. Built around 1898 by James McMillan, it served as the main gathering place for locals. In 2019, the owner gifted the building to the city of Chattahoochee Hills.