History of Grace Church

Founded in 1828, Grace Church is one of the oldest churches in Gainesville, as well as in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. In the early nineteenth century it was the custom of coastal residents to flee to the mountains during the summer months, thus escaping the humid heat of the low country and the outbreaks of malaria. By the late 1820's, Episcopalians were in Gainesville. In the late 1830's, the Reverend E.B. Kellogg, a missionary from New York, established a number of Episcopal missions throughout the mountainous area of North Georgia, and led worship for Gainesville's Episcopalians.

Among these early Episcopalians was Col. George Hervey Hall, a transplanted Yankee from Connecticut, who bought a large parcel of land known as Mule Camp Springs. He built a small chapel on the property and by 1861 the Diocese reported that '...the church in Gainesville is thriving with fourteen members.'

The Civil War, followed by the period of reconstruction, left the fledgling congregation in disarray. Col. Hall sold his property and left the country and the small chapel was sold to the Presbyterians.

Over the years the remaining members of Grace Church reestablished their worshiping community and by 1880 boasted of eight members. A building was erected at the corner of College and Bradford Streets, which was moved to its present location on Washington Street in 1913. We celebrated 100 years on Washington Street in 2013.

Growth and stability followed until disaster struck in 1936. On the morning of April 6th, a devastating tornado struck Gainesville, killing 200 people and destroying businesses and homes. Grace Church was destroyed and its sexton killed. Miraculously the church's altar and attached reredos were left standing.

Less than a year later the cornerstone of a new building was laid and the church was built around the surviving altar. Like the fabled Phoenix, Grace Church has twice risen from the ashes of destruction. Over the last sixty years the parish has become the largest Episcopal congregation in Northeast Georgia and a major presence in the life and work of the Diocese of Atlanta.

Grace Church welcomes all persons who are seeking a spiritual home and invites you, as the Apostle Andrew invited his brother Peter, to "come and see."