ExploreSouthernHistory.com - First Presbyterian Church of Augusta, Georgia
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - First Presbyterian Church of Augusta, Georgia
First Presbyterian Church of Augusta
Designed by the architect of the Washington
Monument, Augusta's First Presbyterian Church was
completed 200 years ago this year.
First Presbyterian Church
The congregation still meets
in the original 1812 sanctuary.
During the Civil War it was
used as a hospital for men
wounded at Chickamauga.
First Presbyterian Church of Augusta - Augusta, Georgia
Boyhood Church of a President
Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
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Boyhood of Woodrow Wilson
The future U.S. President's
father served as minister of
First Presbyterian Church of
Augusta for much of Wilson's
Historical Marker at Church
First Presbyterian Church of
Augusta was designed by
Robert Mills, architect of the
Washington Monument. The
original plans, drafted in
1807, still survive.
Historic Sites of Augusta, Georgia
Established in 1804, the beautiful First
Presbyterian Church of Augusta is one of the
oldest standing churches in Georgia.

Located at 642 Telfair Street, not far from the
Boyhood Home of President Woodrow
Wilson, the congregation still meets in its
original sanctuary. It is one of few early 19th
century churches in the South that can make
that claim.

As the church history notes, Thomas
Jefferson was the President of the United
States when First Presbyterian Church was
organized. It is now more than 200 years old,
having celebrated its bicentennial in 2004.

Throughout its history, the church has had a
unique connection to key figures in American

It was designed by Robert Mills, America's
first native-born architect. He also designed
the Washington Monument in Washington,

Mills submitted the design for the church in
1807 while working under the Philadelphia
architect Benjamin Latrobe. His plans were
selected from those submitted in a design
competition and his vision was so majestic
and impressive that it still can be seen in
Augusta to this day.

The original plans for the church survive and
according to the National Park Service are
among the oldest that still survive for any
building in Georgia.

The First Presbyterian Church sanctuary was
built in 1809-1812. The church was finished
and dedicated in 1812, 200 years ago this

The church as seen today has been altered
somewhat from Mills' original plan. The
Romanesque windows and crenellations
were added in 1847 during a "modernization"
of the structure. Mills' design, however, is still
evident in the shape and scale of the historic

First Presbyterian of Augusta does appear
much today as it did in 1858 when the Rev.
Dr. Joseph Ruggles Wilson arrived as
minister for the congregation. He was the
father of the 28th President of the United
States, Woodrow Wilson.

From 1860-1870, the Wilson family lived in
the Presbyterian Manse which still stands
within view of the church and is now the
Boyhood Home of President Woodrow
Wilson. The future president was just one
year old when his father accepted the job as
minister to the Augusta congregation.

In 1861, Rev. Dr. Wilson and the members of
the church hosted the first meeting of the
General Assembly of the Presbyterian
Church for the Confederate States of
America. Young Woodrow was then called
"Tommy" and may well have been present for
at least parts of that meeting. He and the rest
of his family definitely attended the church
through the Civil War years.

Due to the turbulent nature of the war and
Reconstruction years, the future president
likely heard many sermons from his father
about faith and determination.
The young Wilson also saw first hand the
cruelty of war and never forgot it. After the
Battle of Chickamauga, wounded soldiers
from both armies were brought to Augusta for
care. The pews were removed from inside
First Presbyterian Church so the building
could be used as a hospital. Men who died
there are buried just a few blocks away in
Magnolia Cemetery.

Years later, President Wilson would lead the
nation through World War I and help found
the League of Nations, the predecessor of
today's United Nations. There can be little
doubt that memories of wounded soldiers in
his boyhood church contributed to his efforts.

Rev. Dr. Wilson remained the minister of the
church until 1870 when he was called to the
seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. The
congregation, however, continues to offer aid
and comfort to America's soldiers to this day.

The church served as a center for religious
and social activities for soldiers training near
Augusta during World War I and World War II.
The nearby
Old Medical College of Georgia
served as a USO Canteen during World War
II and soldiers were a common site on the
streets around the church.

First Presbyterian Church of Augusta is
preserved today much as it has appeared
since 1847. It occupies the entire block
between Sixth and Seventh Streets and faces
Telfair Street. The primary address is 642
Telfair Street in Augusta, Georgia.

With its beautiful grounds and soaring 200
year old structure, the church is loved by
residents and visitors alike. The public is
welcome to attend Sunday Morning Worship
at either 8:30 or 11 a.m. and Sunday Evening
Worship at 6:30 p.m.

Please click here to visit First Presbyterian's
official website for more information.