Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Artifact of the Day - Springfield Baptist Church Wall Sconce

The Augusta Museum of History curates some 40,000 artifacts a year. Meaning that in our 72 year history, something like 2.8 million artifacts have probably gone through our doors. Now granted, a single letter is considered an artifact and certainly is not any where near the size of a stuffed bison (yes we have a stuffed bison in our collection), but it still is remarkable that our community's history will continue to be preserved thanks to the Museum and other local agencies.

I thought I'd show off a few of artifacts maybe you don't always necessarily notice when you walk through the galleries.
Today we're featuring a beautiful early gas wall sconce from the original Springfield Baptist Church, on display in Augusta's Story. Springfield Baptist Church was Springfield traces its roots to 1773, making it the oldest black church of any denomination in America. Served by African American pastors during the antebellum period, Springfield had the largest membership of any church in the Georgia Baptist Association. In 1844 if moved from Greene Street to its current location on 12th Street in downtown Augusta.

Springfield had an incredible history - in 1859, Springfield offered Sunday school instruction in, even though such classes were banned by the prevailing slave codes. In 1866, the church hosted the first meeting of the postwar Georgia Equal Rights Association, which became the Georgia Republican Party in 1867. The Augusta Baptist Institute was founded at the church; twelve years later it moved to Atlanta and grew into the legendary Morehouse College.

Be sure to look out for this incredible artifact at your next Museum visit. Matching pairs of this same sconce still hang today in the old sanctuary at 114 12th Street. Read more at http://www.historicspringfieldaugusta.org/.

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