Two markers now help tell the history of the LaFayette Presbyterian Church, the oldest church building in the city, dating back to 1836.
A dedication ceremony for the historical markers, costing $2,500 each, was held on Sunday, Aug. 12, at 12:30 p.m., followed by punch and cookies in the fellowship hall of the church, located at 107 N. Main St., LaFayette, Ga.
One marker notes the origin and history of the church, including its use as a field hospital during the Civil War. The other marker across the street notes Presbyterian Memorial Park, established in 2011 as a joint effort between the church, the city and the county.
The church was organized on Aug. 12, 1836, as Ebenezer Church when LaFayette was only a village called Chattoga. After Chattooga was rechristened LaFayette in 1836 in honor of Revolutionary war hero Marquis de LaFayette, the church was renamed LaFayette Presbyterian Church in 1841.
The present sanctuary was built in 1848. On June 24, 1864, during the Civil War, a battle was fought in LaFayette, and the church was used as a field hospital during and following the battle. In 1883, the church building was repaired from damage caused during the war. In 1922-1923, the church was rebricked in the cream colored brick, so the present sanctuary walls are three bricks thick. The basement of the church was added in 1942 and was dug by the men of the church. In 1972, a Fellowship Hall, additional classrooms, and office space were added to the rear of the old building.
“The Presbyterians have a reputation of being very, very conservative, but our church is a very welcoming church, a very inclusive church,” said Richard Carlton, a church trustee, noting that the plaque shows that the church had African-American members back in the 1800s, which he said was rare in the Civil War era.
The park now includes a small pantry stocked with noodles and a variety of canned goods. The pantry is refilled several times each week and is visited by young parents in the community who are struggling to support a family.