The 123-year-old steeple of this historic church soars like an exclamation point from central Savannah. Organized in 1755, it is revered as the "Mother Church of Georgia Presbyterians." The building's grand architecture reflects English restoration style. Breathtaking exterior features include massive columns and wide, arching windows. Inside, a checkerboard center aisle leads to a pillared pulpit. An elaborate domed ceiling casts a soft glow.
Independent Presbyterian Church has surmounted tremendous hardship. Fire destroyed the original brick building in 1796. Its replacement was severely damaged in 1804 by a hurricane that dashed its regal spire. To cover the expense of rebuilding, pews were sold at a cost of $1,140 per family. In 1889, fire blazed again, razing the magnificent edifice. Two sacred objects were salvaged and remain in the church today, the marble baptismal font and mahogany pulpit. The font flagstones were sourced from a New Jersey farm and hauled to Savannah by oxen. The four pulpit columns were carved from the same tree, selected after a statewide search. The third structure, erected in 1891, is the congregation's current home.
The church has been the site of three eminent events. In 1885, the manse of the church was the setting for the wedding of President Woodrow Wilson and his bride. In 1994, the church was filmed in the opening scene of the movie "Forrest Gump." Composer Lowell Mason, the "father of public school music," served as the church's organist. His much-beloved hymns include "Nearer My God to Thee," "Blest Be the Tie that Binds," and "My Faith Looks Up to Thee."
Sunday worship takes place at 11am and 5:15pm. A fellowship supper is served after evening devotions. On Wednesdays, a brief service is held at 12pm, followed by lunch. Meals are provided at a nominal cost.
Savannah encompasses the largest National Historic Landmark District in the US. Wondrous mansions, museums, and monuments line the streets and public squares. Splendor greets the eye at every turn. Historian Walter Hartridge extols IPC as “Savannah’s most notable building.” Rich in history, design, and fellowship, the Mother Church embraces all faiths. Glory and grandeur reign at this majestic shrine!