Old Ruskin Church, Ware County, GA

Traveling across Highway 84 in Ware County, Georgia, you’ll see a worn sign with red lettering on the side of the road in Ruskin, an unincorporated community in Waycross.

Off Highway 84.

Off Highway 84.

Looking back down the dirt road (in front of the church).

Looking back down the dirt road and across the tracks (in front of the church).

The “Old Ruskin Church” intrigues a preservationist familiar with John Ruskin’s, The Seven Lamps of Architecture.  Pull over, make a u-turn and turn down the southern dirt road, Griffin Road. Cross the tracks at the curve in the road is the Old Ruskin Church. This darling white church sits quietly beneath the picturesque canopy of long leaf pines, among the fallen pine straw.  On a sunny day, it seemed to be one of the most serene spots to find.

Old Ruskin Church.

Old Ruskin Church.

Perfect southern setting.

Perfect southern setting.

The steeple among the pines.

The steeple among the pines.

Beautiful detail on this little church. And also many bees nests. It's in need of some maintenance.

Beautiful detail on this little church. And also many bees nests. It’s in need of some maintenance.

One more for good measure.

One more for good measure.

The Old Ruskin Church, ca. 1899, belonged to the Ruskin Commonwealth, a Utopian socialist community incorporated in 1899. This community was founded by 240 people who moved near Waycross in 1899 from the Ruskin Colony in Tennessee (1896-1899). As the name suggests, the community was founded on principles of the English social reformer John Ruskin.  See photographs of the community here. Unfortunately, the settlement lasted only a few years, disbanding in 1901 due to poor farming land, poor business ventures, disease and poverty.

Who owns this church? What goes on here? There was no indication. Do you know anything about it? Please share!

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10 thoughts on “Old Ruskin Church, Ware County, GA

  1. Sharman Southall says:

    I know about this church because I’m helping the congregation document its history! It actually predates the Ruskin Commonwealth and was known as the Duke Church before the Ruskinites moved to the area in 1899. I was unable to determine the exact construction date, but the land was deeded to the trustees of the Duke Church in 1896. A newspaper article from 1902 mentions the church building, so the services could have been held in a brush arbor prior to that time. The complete history should be finished early next year. I’ll be sure and give you a link.

      • avondalecemetery says:

        Thanks! The congregants are pretty amazing—I’ve interviewed two men in their 90s with such interesting lives. I hope you get other comments on the church. It’s so lovely and the project has been such fun.

        Sharman Southall
        Historian
        GDOT
        Office of Environmental Services
        600 West Peachtree Street, NW
        16th Floor
        Atlanta, Georgia 30308
        404.631.1057

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