This is an historic Greek Revival style church, listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1997. This photo shoot is an ongoing collection in my portfolio called The Church and also part of my Rural Decay Portfolio as well (see other posts like this), which is part of my overall interest in photographing abandoned places. This little church was probably one of my favorite rural photography shoots to date. It was a really incredible mix of history with enough of a structure left that it still resembled its original character and use. As a side-note, most of the historical information I learned about this church came from the national register. There is some really cool information about the church there if you are interested. My images were taken a few years ago, so the images I’ve seen since then do look different and it does look like there is a restoration project that is taking place as well.
Uchee Methodist Church is in this tiny little town called, of course, Uchee, Alabama, which is located in a very rural part of Russel County. The Uchee Methodist Church is still standing quite strong as a testament to the rich history and architectural heritage of the region. This church certainly witnessed a lot of history, weathering changes through the civil rights era, and seemed to evolved with the community it served.
The Methodist congregation at Uchee can be traced back to 1833 when a log church was erected in 1836. David E. McIntyre served as the first pastor, overseeing a congregation that included 124 white and 53 black members during the second year of his tenure. The present structure, a testament to the Greek Revival style that was popular in Alabama during the antebellum period, was constructed by L. S. Johnson around 1859.
Through the Years
As the years passed, Uchee Methodist Church remained a hub for the local community. However, like many historic landmarks, it experienced changes to adapt to the evolving needs of its congregation. In 1980, the church underwent significant alterations, including the removal of a separated rear section that had originally served the segregated black congregants. The church did continue to be a vital part of the community until around the mid-1980s.
Decline and Continued Care
Declining membership led to the dispersion of the congregation and the eventual closure of the church in the mid-1980s. However, according to the national register, the former congregants, driven by a deep sense of attachment to their place of worship, continued to maintain the church building for several years after its closure.
The Photography Shoot
This particular shoot was done in July, and it was blistering hot inside and out. I did the shoot basically in the middle of the day where the sun was giving me some super contrasty light through the windows, and although the inside of the building was closed up there was plenty of sunlight.
The highlight of this set of images for me is definitely the piano in the corner of the worship area. It was such a beautiful piece, and its age and weathering added some really incredible colors. I also really loved the banners they had on the side walls. Somehow the fabric was still in tact, and in really good condition (although I refrained from touching just about everything to keep my impact on the place as minimal as possible). One of the other things that really caught my eye was the green paint. I love green, but there was an attempt to paint the doors, trim, and some other areas and it added such a cool spot of color. I’m guessing this paint was now maybe 10-20 years old, but it wasn’t from the 80’s, it had been painted more recently. The church was still very much a church, and it was certainly a contemplative shoot for me.
The images below were selected from a shoot of about 150-200 images. I mostly picked these for their super high contrast and extreme highs and lows in color and light. The texture of the inside of the building was something else that I looked for. The walls and pieces of wood made for some great character within the images.