On moving the church
WCCPA Treasurer and member of the Warsaw Church and Community
In 2002 Johns Creek UMC made moves to sell the old Warsaw Church property so that they might put the funds toward the expansion of their church. Many of the original families of the “old Warsaw community” banned together in an effort to preserve the great history and heritage of the Warsaw Church and the Church Cemetery. Great efforts were made to try to keep both pieces together, unfortunately that was not possible. In February of 2003 the families formed a non-profit to take care of the Cemetery, to protect and preserve its history for the community as well as for the heritage of our families. The Historic Warsaw Church Building had to be moved. The families found themselves with the extremely painful choice of watching their “home” of over 170 years be bulldozed to the ground or watch it roll down the road in a shell to its new home in the Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center. While both choices proved almost as painful as the other, the decision was made to move the building and restore it for use at a new site.
We loaded up the contents of the inside of the church that were still left the family pews, Sunday schools wood chairs, wood Sunday school table, the metal sign from out front and a few other odds and ends into a borrowed trailer for careful storage during the move. During the first few weeks of March 2004, the Warsaw Church building was carefully prepared for its move to Autrey Mill. The Sunday school rooms and the basement fellowship hall were removed from the main original structure. The rooms in the rear of the original structure were constructed with cinder blocks in the 1950's and could not be moved. The front porch also had to be removed as it was simply a concrete slab with a roof awning and two pillars. The roof, which was in need of replacement anyway, was removed so that the building would clear power lines, etc as it rolled down the road on a building moving truck. The movers carefully braced the four remaining original outside walls together slid beams underneath and put it on the truck.
On March 16, 2004 with permits in hand, a police escort, Warsaw Church was slowly moved off its home, down Medlock Bridge Road to Old Alabama Road and finally to Autrey Mill. I personally followed Warsaw Church from its original home to its new home. The whole way I cried while on the phone with my mother giving her move by move as she cried. Once we finally arrived at Autrey Mill I parked my car, got out in tears and was greeted by Cheryl Bowlin of Autrey Mill, tears running down my face and was told lovingly that it would be ok now that the building was safe. Still hurt that we moved it all, the only thing I could think to say was "I know, but it should never have had to be moved". Over the next several months the building was put on its new foundation and the new roof was put on. We built temporary steps and began the clean-up process. The carpet runners were old and damaged so they were removed and the glue was carefully scrapped off of the hardwood floors. Since then the building had sat waiting on the needed funds to restore it. In November of 2005 one of our Board Members Mrs. Clare "Tia" Findley Magbee passed away, it was her wish that our work to restore the church get done, she personally left funds to that cause along with the request that donation be made in her memory to the cause. Autrey Mill received a state grant to restore all of the buildings in the Heritage Village, those funds have finally arrived and the work can begin. A portion of those funds will be put together with those made in memory of Tia and the building will soon be restored back to its original glory.
We signed over the building to the board at Autrey Mill; we have only the cemetery left of the original property, which we care for through donations from the family members and the community. It is a daunting task as times, but since all of the original records for the cemetery are lost, we have begun again. We are still in the process of redoing a detailed mapping of the cemetery, gathering biographies of those buried there, genealogy records, census records, marriage records, etc.
"Home is where the heart is", our hearts are forever in Warsaw no matter where we roam, or where our lives take us, all roads lead us home to Warsaw.