Georgia historical group looks for preservation tips at Shoal Creek church

·3 min read

Jun. 4—TALLADEGA NATIONAL FOREST — Two members of the Villa Rica Historical Society visited the picturesque Shoal Creek Missionary Baptist Church nestled deep in the Talladega National Forest on Thursday to see what it takes to preserve a historical structure.

The Shoal Creek Church, built in 1895, got a much-needed facelift last year, which included a new floor, new floor joists and additional bracing to shore up its sagging roof.

Jane Sanders, an organizer of the preservation efforts at the Shoal Creek Church, had invited John and Elaine Bailey to inspect the church, take photos and take their lessons back home to Georgia to share with their club's members so they can preserve an old tavern in Villa Rica.

The Baileys are members of the Villa Rica Area Historical Society, which is in the process of preserving Wick's Tavern, a two-story structure built in 1830.

According to John Bailey, Wick's Tavern had been a stagecoach, a store and a tavern back in the "gold rush" days.

Elaine Bailey said that time has not been friendly to the old tavern. She said the roof has holes in it, bringing water damage to rot the beams, the walls are bowing out and there is also a squirrel infestation.

"If you named all the problems it could have it's probably got everyone of them," she said.

Sanders has been advising the Baileys how to go about preserving the structure including fundraising, getting 501(c)3 status and other related information.

Sanders told the Baileys that Shoal Creek Church was not actually restored but preserved, a distinction she says is important.

"If they were going to restore it you couldn't have any of that stuff in here like this," Sanders said pointing to the modern treated lumber to help brace the roof.

"We did that to preserve the building, to keep it as much like it was before, but there was no way we could restore it back to 1847 or 1895. To preserve it just means that we go in there and put those beams and things to keep it from falling in and to keep the roof on."

Elaine Bailey said that the Villa Rica Area Historical Society owns Wick's Tavern and will publicly announce efforts soon to help with fundraising. The tavern was moved in September 1998 from "Old Town Villa Rica" to its present location, a distance of four miles. The tavern had to be cut in half to be moved, she said.

She was impressed with the preservation efforts and the ambience of the Shoal Creek Church.

"It's wonderful, it's like stepping back in time especially with no electricity," she said.

Bailey said their tavern will most likely have a museum downstairs and upstairs in the old sleeping quarters quilts will be on display.

Bailey said she is looking forward to sharing the knowledge learned by visiting Shoal Creek Church with club members to start the process of preserving Wick's Tavern.

"It's really a shame to let things like Shoal Creek Baptist Church and Wick's Tavern go to ruin when, with just some efforts of some interested historians and the general public and some funds, they can be saved," she said.

Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.