Monday, August 10, 2015

Old McKee's Chapel, c. 1948, Dawson County, GA

From Hwy 183, photographer facing west
Located on Hwy 183, northwest of Dawsonville, GA, this modest brick structure is the second of the three structures that McKee's Chapel United Methodist Church has utilized. The initial church was organized in the 1860s in the form of a brush arbor (for those of you that are as unfamiliar with a brush arbor as I was, there's a great, short article here). 

Main entrance, photographer facing SW
According to the church's website, it was founded by people who were Union sympathizers during the Civil War.  Apparently Dawson County, like many of the counties in the mountainous region of north Georgia, was divided on the issue of secession. There is even a historical marker at the old courthouse in town that describes the unit formed (the First Georgia Volunteer Infantry Battalion) in the county that fought for the Union.

The church evolved into a campground with 14 cabins, and a log church, named Campground Methodist Church. In 1883, land was donated to the church by the Purdy and Bennett families, which was renamed McKee' Chapel to honor Joseph McKee who donated money (either $50 or $100, depending on the source) to construct a wooden frame church.

In 1909/10 the building was moved from its original location to where it is now, closer to the road. In 1948, the wooden building was replaced by the brick structure shown in these photos. 

From Hwy 183, photographer facing south

This structure was replaced in 1990, according to tax assessor's records. The new church building, with approximately 2,500 square feet is over twice as large as the old building. It is located across the highway.

Though no longer used as the main house of worship, it is apparently maintained by the congregation.

Adjacent to the old church is the cemetery, both silent reminders of a bygone era.

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