Between 1798 and 1856, Augusta, Georgia had only one Methodist Church
—known as the Augusta Station (or Methodist Station).
In 1854, the church recognized the need for a second location to serve the rapidly growing population in the lower eastern part of the city (now known as the Olde Town Historical District). With great reluctance to divide the congregation, they nevertheless voted to establish a second church.
In 1855, the property at 439 Greene Street was purchased, a church building erected, and in 1856 the 'Methodist Station' became two churches, St. John and St. James.
As St. James’ Sunday School and choir grew in popularity and size, renovations were made to accommodate the growth.
In 1886-1887, a belfry was added, and the church was greatly enlarged to its present Gothic structure.
In 1895, the magnificent Hook & Hastings Pipe Organ was purchased at the Atlanta exposition for $3,000. It was dismantled, shipped by rail, and delivered by horse-drawn wagon to St. James, where it was reassembled. Although the 'Hook & Hastings' was replaced with an Austin 3-manual electric powered pipe organ in 1950, the beautifully toned pipes from the 'Hook & Hastings' still grace the Sanctuary today.
Mercifully, the great fire of 1916 that destroyed so much of Augusta skipped St. James, although many parishioners’ homes were burned to the ground. Despite personal losses, the congregation voted to build a brick parsonage beside the church. Today this structure serves as the Ministry Building, housing the church offices along with Methodist Family Services.
St. James Historic Marker
St. James Hook & Hastings Pipe Organ
St. James Methodist Church
Founded in 1856
The beautiful Hook & Hastings Company pipe organ at St. James was purchased in 1895 at the Great Atlanta Exhibition at a cost of $3000 (equivalent to $108,968 in 2023) with funds raised by the women of the church. While most organs are built to fit the space they will inhabit, this organ was already on display at the exhibition, requiring that it be dismantled, shipped by train to Augusta, and reassembled into the space you see. Most of the instrument’s internal mechanisms remain today, and are now over almost 130 years old.
This is a medium-sized instrument with approximately 1500 pipes ranging in size from 3 inches high with a diameter slightly larger than a pencil to 16 feet high. Over 1500 valves are opened and closed during the playing of a hymn!
The pipes are made from a variety of materials, including wood and metal. The wooden pipes are generally square and are quite different from the round pipes you see on the organ “façade.” The façade comprises the beautifully stenciled pipes that adorn the front of the organ, many of which are actually “dummy” pipes—functional pipes that receive no wind and therefore cannot sound.
All pipe organs require wind to sound. When the organist presses a key, a valve is opened, allowing compressed air to escape through the pipe, resulting in a tone. The St. James organ has two manuals (keyboards), as well as a pedal board. Each key and pedal is able to make multiple sounds ranging from flutes, to strings, to reeds (trumpets.)
The original console (keyboard) was attached to the organ case directly in the center of the choir loft, leaving the organist’s back to the congregation.
In 1950, the organ underwent a major $10,000 renovation by the Austin Organ Company to make it totally electric, including the addition of an electric bellow system to produce the wind. At this time, a new console was placed on the floor of the sanctuary, where it is today.
The chimes were added in 1935 and dedicated to the memory of Robert Lee Swan by Mrs. Swan.
'St. James United Methodist Church'
439 Greene Street, Augusta GA 30901
The Inscription Reads:
In 1798 the Methodist Church was incorporated in Augusta and known as the “Augusta Station.” St. John Methodist Episcopal Church was the mother church formed out of this movement and St. James Methodist Episcopal Church was created in 1854 as an outgrowth of St. John. St. John secured the lot for the new church in 1855 and by 1856, a two-story brick building was completed at a cost of $9,661. St. James was named in honor of Reverend James E. Evans, its founder. In 1886, the church building was enlarged, a belfry erected, and the façade improved.
The white marble monument across the street was erected by a St. James Sunday School class in memory of those who had lost their lives in the Civil War. 24 church members’ and 261 other Augustans’ names are inscribed on the monument. The cenotaph was unveiled on December 31, 1873.
The building adjacent to the church was built in 1916 as the parsonage.
It was renamed the “Ministry Building” in 1981.
President Eisenhower worshipped here on January 3, 1954.
Emma S. Lester, an early missionary to China wrote in the history of the church this statement:
“May St. James shine as a beacon light for centuries to come, and when the summons come that time shall be no more, may the beams from her light ever to the portals of heaven.”
Erected by Historic Augusta, Inc. and St. James United Methodist Church.
St. James Methodist Church located at 439 Greene St. in the Olde Town Historic District of Augusta, Ga welcomes you to worship and serve with us.
St James strives to help people connect with the saving love of Jesus, understand and obey God's Word, the Bible, grow in Christian faith, and then share God's love with each other and the world.
We offer various Christian programs, study groups, ministry opportunities, and services for all ages, with an ongoing focus on missions and outreach, so that we can make a positive difference in the lives of our members and in our community.
We invite you to attend a worship service on Sunday's at 11:00 am.
We look forward to seeing You at St. James.
May God Bless You this Day!
St. James Methodist Church of Augusta, Ga
The Fellowship of the Friendly