An ambitious historic preservation project in Augusta achieves a major milestone Wednesday. Trinity CME Church is being moved to a new location.
“Mother Trinity”, as it is affectionately known, is considered the birthplace of the Christian Methodist Episcopal denomination. The stately brick structure, with its twin spires and multiple stain glass windows, has occupied the corner of 8th and Taylor Streets for more than 125 years.
Environmental contamination from a 19th century manufactured gas plant made it necessary for the congregation to sell the building in 1997. It's been empty ever since. There was talk over the years of demolishing it, but the leadership of the Augusta Canal National Heritage area, which owns land adjacent to the church, thought it was worth saving. Engineers, contractors and donors, came with up a plan to move the church to a new location a few hundred yards away.
Work began early this year excavating under the church and installing a lattice of massive steel beams. Then came the task of getting it on wheels. Dayton Sherrouse, executive director of the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area, said 12 dollies and 96 tires will roll the church to its new home.
In this video, Trinity pastor Skip Mason takes a walk around the church prior to the move.
Much like the jetway at an airport, each dolly has its own remotely controlled hydraulic propulsion system which will be engaged to drive the church to its new location. Once the church is on its new lot, it will be lowered onto its new foundation. Then there’s the renovations.
“We’ve got to replace the roof, and then the stain glass windows and window frames have to be refurbished and redone,” Sherrouse said.
What will Mother Trinity be used for once the renovations are complete? Sherrouse said a number of ideas are under consideration, including using it as an arts performance space...something it was rumored to have been used for in the past.
“The story is that James Brown lived and worshipped in this church at one time, and we’ve also heard stories that he would slip in after hours and practice playing on the piano,” Sherrouse said.