Monday, January 18, 2010

Moss Hill Methodist Church - Washington County, Florida

One of the most beautiful old structures in the South can be found in the rolling hills of the Florida Panhandle. Built in 1857, Moss Hill Methodist church is one of the oldest standing rural churches in the Sunshine State.

The church originated in the earliest days of the American settlement of Florida. It began as a mission of the South Carolina Methodist Conference and is known to have been active as early as 1823, just two years after the cession of Florida from Spain to the United States.

The early years of the church were turbulent as is demonstrated by the fact that the congregation met in a fort or blockhouse that stood just a few hundred yards from the structure that stands today. This log fort slowly deteriorated and the members of the church voted to build a new frame sanctuary that was completed in 1857.

Local tradition holds that the church was only the second structure in Washington County, which then included an empty expanse where today's popular resort of Panama City Beach now stands, to have glass windows.

Moss Hill Church played a key role in the War Between the States and stones in the nearby cemetery preserve the memory of a number of its members who were taken prisoner while serving with the local home guard. Carried away to Northern prison camps, they died there far away from home and never returned.

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