When you take a stroll through Savannah’s Historic District, you’re sure to notice the many steeples that take over the sky. Savannah is rich with historic churches, ranging from First African Baptist Church, the country’s oldest African-American church, to the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, the oldest Roman Catholic church in the state. When you visit Savannah, it’s a must to visit at least one of these charming pieces of history.
The First African Baptist Church, billed as the first black Baptist congregation in the United States, was organized in 1773 by Reverend George Leile, with the building being finished in 1859. The church served as a stop along the Underground Railroad, reflected by the air holes in the flooring of the sanctuary for escaped slaves. You can find First African Baptist Church at 23 Montgomery Street, right on Franklin Square.
The Congregation Mickve Israel holds the distinctions of being the only purely Gothic-style revival synagogue in the country as well as representing the third-oldest Jewish congregation in the United States. It was organized by Sephardic Jewish immigrants of Spanish-Portuguese extraction from London in 1735. Tour the Congregation Mickve Israel at 20 East Gordon Street, situated on Monterey Square.
If you’ve seen Forrest Gump – and it’s more than likely that you have – and you remember the opening credits from the classic movie, then the Independent Presbyterian Church will instantly look familiar. Located at 207 Bull Street at the corner of Oglethorpe Avenue, it is considered the mother church for the Presbyterians of Georgia. The church was organized in 1755 and built in 1817.
As you’re walking up to Johnson Square, you’re likely to notice a building with distinct Corinthian columns. That building is Christ Church Episcopal, located at 28 Bull Street. The church was the first house of worship in the colony back in 1733 and is known as the Mother Church of Georgia.
No matter where you are in the Historic District, you’re almost certain to see the iconic twin steeples of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, located at 222 East Harris Street on Lafayette Square, shooting up to the sky. This restored cathedral is one of Savannah’s most-visited sites, and you’ll quickly learn why as you’re walking up the steps and coming face to face with the stained-glass windows.
Of course, these are just a few of the many historic churches in the Hostess City. Consider this a mini-guide to round out your stay in Savannah.