First Presbyterian Church of Darien
The First Presbyterian Church of Darien is considered to be the first congregation of the Presbyterian denomination to be established in Georgia. The Darien church was founded in January 1736 by Scottish Highlanders from Inverness, Scotland, only three years after the Georgia colony was established at Savannah by James Edward Oglethorpe.
The Rev. John McLeod of Scotland was the first pastor of the Darien church, which prospered during the colonial era in the formative years of the town and colony.
The Darien Presbyterian Church was re-organized in 1809 with the constitution of the present permanent church and congregation. In 1820, the church constructed a permanent edifice on the east side of the present Highway 17 near the later county jail site. The two most prominent antebellum pastors of the Darien Presbyterian Church were Nathaniel A. Pratt (1826-1840), who later was one of the founders of the town of Roswell in north Georgia, and Francis R. Goulding (1856-1862) who wrote the well-known novel “The Young Marooners” among other popular works of fiction during the period. The antebellum church structure served the congregation until 1863 when Darien was burned by Union forces during a raid on the town by troops stationed on nearby St. Simons Island. The church site was later given to the First African Baptist Church whose congregation built their present church in 1868.
A new wooden Presbyterian church was built in 1876 on the site of the present church on a plot owned by the congregation since the 1820s (Bayard Square). An accidental fire destroyed the building in 1899, although church records (dating back to 1820) and the pulpit furniture were saved. A new tabby Gothic-Victorian church edifice, the present structure, was built and consecrated to the glory of God on September 2, 1900. In 2000, the Darien congregation held special observances in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the building.