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With neighboring Savannah being the genesis of Georgia culture, there are a multitude of refined and intellectually stimulating activities found here.

Port Wentworth is awash with Colonial and Civil War-era history, which can be explored through numerous historical markers, several African-American praise houses, and on the Historical Port Wentworth Driving Tour.

Click here to download the Driving Tour Brochure.

Historical Markers

While exploring Port Wentworth, Georgia, take time to stop and read markers that help you understand the historical significance of the area.

For example, the Blue Star Memorial Highway marker at I-95 at the Georgia Welcome Center stands as a tribute to the Armed Forces that have defended the United States of America. Other markers and their locations are:

  • Houston Baptist Church – 9000 Old Augusta Rd./ GA Hwy. 21, Port Wentworth - north of I-95
  • Mulberry Grove Plantation – On the east side of GA Hwy. 21 at Graveyard Road, south of Port Wentworth in Monteith
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  • Village of Abercorn – Georgia Hwy. 21 at County Road 3, one-half mile south of the Effingham County line
  • Indian Trading Post/Home of Mary Musgrove – U.S. 17 at the former Savannah Sugar Refining Company, Savannah
  • Richmond Baptist Church – 90007351 GA Hwy. 21, Port Wentworth
  • Battle Between Confederate Gunboats and Union Field Artillery – U.S. 17 at the former Savannah Sugar Refining Company near Port Wentworth
  • Washington’s Southern Tour II – On GA 21 North, just south of I-95 in Port Wentworth

Historic Praise Houses,
Churches and Cemeteries

History-lovers, listen quietly and you may still hear a few strains of the harmonious hymns emanating from some of these old buildings where Port Wentworth, Georgia plantation slaves lifted their voices. These African- American praise houses, built in the early 19th century, are being restored and revived by Port Wentworth citizens who cherish their historical significance and want to preserve them for the relatives and descendants who still live in the Port Wentworth

area. Each historical Port Wentworth church has
its story:

“Putting the history of Port Wentworth together requires input from a little bit of everyone because we are so connected, yet we are scattered in the different areas of the land mass. I've lived in Port Wentworth 56 of my 63 years, and I've been told about everything from the rice fields to the different small living quarters to the juke joints to the people who made these places and activities interesting. I think the best way to start a decent conversation is to talk about the churches. That is the African American or as called at an earlier time, the Negro churches. Because Port Wentworth, the city, as it is named now, was not always a part of the Monteith, Meinhard, 12 Mile (Augusta Road) or Rice Hope community, we must focus on the four churches that were synonymous to these areas, White Oak, Mount Moriah, Richmond and Houston Baptist. Now, before becoming a church, they started off as praise houses.

Praise houses were located on each plantation or large community. A place of worship was felt to be something that should be provided to the plantation workers even after slavery.

When we research the history of each of these, now churches, once they were formally organized they were now churches, no longer praise houses, we will find that each one came from a neighboring plantation: White Oak, Drakie Plantation, Mount Moriah, Godley Plantation, Houston, Rice Hope Plantation and Richmond, Richmond Plantation.

In order to ensure good participation in all churches, the earlier worshippers staggered the meeting or service Sundays. For instance, Abercorn Baptist Church, which is located on Old Augusta Road in Effingham is connected to these churches in this area, is the oldest in the bunch, is a hand me down from the Salisburgers, affiliated with the Chatham County churches as a union church and met on the 1st Sunday, Richmond and Mount Moriah, met on the 2nd Sunday, Houston met on the 3rd Sunday and White Oak, the 4th Sunday. Thereby giving you a place of worship each Sunday.

Even more intriguing is that before there were praise houses, nice little wood frame buildings, worship services took place under bush arbors or brush arbors.

And it means just what it reads, bush arbors, hidden areas of refuge constructed of vegetation entwined to make a shelter strong and durable enough to seclude the worshipper from exposure. An interesting topic of future discussion.”

Ms. Della Steele, local historian who researched the history of many of the churches in the area (North Port Wentworth Citizens Council)

Origins of African-American Praise Houses:

  • Houston Baptist Church – (Now the Houston Museum)
    From the historical marker: “Houston Baptist Church and its adjoining cemetery were organized in 1886 under the leadership of Reverend Ulysses L. Houston, minister of First Bryan Baptist Church in Savannah. A significant religious and political leader in the African-American community, Houston attended the meeting at Gen. Sherman’s Savannah headquarters in January 1865 that resulted in Special Field Order No.15 (the redistribution of confiscated coastal land in forty-acre tracts to newly freed blacks). Houston also served a term in Georgia’s Reconstruction legislature. Established in the tradition of earlier plantation praise houses intended to Christianize the enslaved populations of rural plantations, Houston Baptist Church served the African Americans of Rice Hope Plantation. Houston Baptist Church continued to serve the local community until the 1970s.”

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  • Richmond Baptist Church – From the historical marker: “Richmond Baptist Church and its adjoining cemetery were organized on March 14, 1897 under the leadership of Rev.

    E.K. Love, third pastor of First African Baptist Church in Savannah. Rev. Love was a significant missionary and religious leader in the African-American community throughout Georgia. Richmond was one of thirteen identified Savannah praise houses under the administration of First African Baptist Church in 1884. Established in the tradition of earlier plantation praise houses intended to Christianize the enslaved populations of rural plantations, Richmond Baptist Church served the African Americans of Richmond Plantation. Richmond maintained religious worship under the affiliate plantation membership of First African Baptist Church of Savannah.”

  • Mount Moriah Baptist Church – Organized in 1895 in the historic African-American community of Meinhardt one-half mile south of the Effingham County line
 
  • White Oak Baptist Church – Organized in 1837 on the site known as Drakie Plantation

Other Historic Churches:

  • North Salem Baptist Church – Organized in 1823
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Church – Catholic Church started by its Sugar Refinery