Historical Compilations - Historic Churches

The highest style of surviving historical architecture in Baldwin County is seen in its churches. Serving as the focus for small communities, churches were the most ambitious buildings many of them would erect. Since the historic courthouses and city halls of the county have been lost, only the churches remain as significant examples of public architecture.

 The oldest surviving church in the county, Montgomery Hill Baptist Church, was built on Montgomery Hill near Tensaw in 1853-1854. This simple Greek Revival structure is typical of the nineteenth-century rural churches with its frame construction and one-room sanctuary. Yet its resemblance to a Greek temple and use of interior graining and paneling set it far above any of the homes built in the area at that time. In addition, the slave gallery is a historic statement of the social arrangements of a slave-owning society.

 Gothic Revival stylistic influences are visible in the Latham Methodist Church (Latham, 1906), St. Paul's Episcopal Church (Magnolia Springs, 1901), and Swift Presbyterian Church (Miflin, 1907).

 By the 1920's, ornamental concrete blocks had become a popular building material. Three churches built of this material are the Lebanon Chapel A.M.E. Church (1923) and Twin Beach A.M.E Zion Church (1925), both in Fairhope, and the St. Raphael's Roman Catholic Church (1924) in Loxley, now being used as the Loxley Public Library.

 The Lebanon Chapel A.M.E. Church is the finest example of concrete construction in a religious context in Baldwin County. Its central tower, quoins, denticulations and belt course distinguish it as the highest-style building in a predominately African-American neighborhood.

 For wealthier congregations, brick became the material of choice. The First Baptist Church of Bay Minette (1914) and St. Mark's Lutheran Church of Elberta (1927) both use this material to a positive effect. The Baptist church, no longer in use, features a recessed portico with tall white Tuscan columns, whereas the Lutheran church mimics medieval building traditions with its squat tower, buttresses, and gothic windows.

 The Stockton Methodist Church (1929) was built from an old school torn down on the site, and this use of older materials may have influenced its design. The church's massive square brick columns and pedimented front gable are reminiscent of the Classical Revival style of an earlier era.